New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS): Madhumathi R, a cheerful girl from Neyveli, Tamil Nadu, is a promising midfielder currently in the India U-20 Women's National camp for the upcoming SAFF U-20 Women's Championship in Dhaka, Bangladesh from February 3-9.
Madhumathi is only 18 but has already gone through many ups and downs while pursuing her passion for football. Her sheer love for the game is clearly visible in her eyes whenever she speaks about it.
Currently a first-year college student, she is a far more mature person. She now makes every effort to balance her studies and football. Her father is a daily wager, and her mother is a housewife. Her sister is also an earning member of the family. Yet, it is not always easy for her family to support her dream of playing football. Madhumathi, however, is not ready to give up.
She started playing football at the age of eight and soon found herself bunking classes to spend more time on the field. It did land her in trouble, both with the school authorities and her parents. While her father didn't stop Madhumathi from playing, her mother wasn't ready to fall in line.
"I used to bunk classes since I always wanted to play football with the boys in the school. It was great fun. I enjoyed doing so. My mother was very strict because she was concerned about me getting injured, but later relented as she understood my love for football," said Madhumathi.
The midfielder got selected for the camp back in 2021 but unfortunately missed out when the final list of 23 was announced. Yet, Madhumathi couldn't be dissuaded from going to the ground every day.
"When I got selected in my first ever coaching camp in Maharashtra, I got very emotional and told my parents that the day is not far when I will be in the National camp as well. And after a year, I got called up for the U-17 World Cup camp, but somehow, I couldn't make the cut for the final team. I was heartbroken - but that did not stop me from playing football."
"If I had the option to choose either studies or football, I would have easily chosen football any day," she said with a smile.
Madhumathi's inspiration are two of her seniors from Tamil Nadu, Indumathi Kathiresan and Karthika Angamuthu, who are the part of the Senior Women's National team. The opportunity to train with the seniors in the current National camp is the cherry on the cake for her.
"I feel special that the camp is happening in my state, and being the only one from Tamil Nadu among the probables is something I can be proud of. I ardently follow Karthika didi and Indumathi didi. I have seen their game, and I try to learn from them.
"As a player, I have improved my speed and strength, and now I am trying to focus more on the basics. The SAFF U-20 Women's Championship is a very important tournament for us, and we as a team are working hard to lift the trophy and make our nation proud," concluded Madhumathi.