Women's SAFF U16 C'ship will be all about playing good football, says India head coach Biby Thomas

Kathmandu (Nepal), Feb 27 (IANS): The Indian U16 Women's team on Tuesday reached Kathmandu, Nepal for the SAFF U16 Women's Championship with head coach Biby Thomas asserting that the campaign will be all about playing good football.

The Indian team travelled from the warmth of coastal Goa, where it was in a camp, to the much chillier conditions in the Nepal capital and will get just about 72 hours to get ready for their opening encounter with Bhutan.

It is a very special trip for these young girls, their first journey across the border and their first time representing their nation. The next week and a half is going to be the biggest one of their young careers.

Newly-appointed head coach Biby Thomas shared how the camp functioned in Goa, and how the players were selected for the tournament.

"We started the camp on January 15, and the selection trial lasted 16 days. More than 60 players attended these trials, from which the list of probables was shortened to 30 players in February. Now, the final 23 have made the cut for (the) Nepal (trip).

"Our scouts were present in all the Sub-Junior and Junior Girls National Football Championships, both Tier 1 and Tier 2 tournaments (held in Amritsar, Belagavi, Bhubaneswar and Jodhpur), who selected players for this batch," he said.

Thomas, who was the assistant coach of India's SAFF U19 Men's Championship triumph also in Nepal last year, emphasised that it's not only about getting wins here. Player development is of supreme significance at this age.

"Our camp was very fruitful. We focused on every aspect of the game because, at such a young age, you need to develop everything. If we only chase results, we can't get that development. The biggest positive from our camp is that the girls are learning quickly," the head coach told the-aiff.com.

"Our focus is development, and not just winning here. Most of our players were born in 2010. The benefit of bringing such a young squad here is that going forward, this batch will have more playing experience together. Overall, the players are selected on merit, with the focus on who all can potentially grow into a top player at the senior level," explained Thomas.

For now, though, all the Young Tigresses want is to play good football, enjoy their international debut and bring the SAFF U16 Women's Championship trophy home. However, this is just going to be the start, Thomas affirmed.

"This tournament is very important for not just these girls, but our national team setup too because they are the future of the Indian Women's Team. But this will only be the beginning. After the SAFF, we have to concentrate on qualifying for the AFC U17 Women's Asian Cup. It's a long journey, so we need to work extra hard and the girls are doing exactly that," the head coach concluded.



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Title: Women's SAFF U16 C'ship will be all about playing good football, says India head coach Biby Thomas

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