Seconds after stepping inside the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) Conference Room which was bursting at the seams with not less than 90 journalists and photographers/cameraman on the job, India U-16 Women’s national team captain Amrita Kumari was made to understand the weight of her armband.
Not among the two – Head Coach and a first team player (Angline Fernandes) – attending the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship (Qualifiers) Pre Tournament Media Interaction, Amrita was called on later after photographers requested for a group photograph involving all the five captains of Group B. She arrived in the nick of time, this time egged on by the crazy Dhaka traffic as well.
Escorted immediately to the venue, she was left flabbergasted upon entering the Conference Room where the Press meet – done with one team at a time due to paucity of space – had just ended.
“I have seen this in television only. Star players being mobbed by photographers. At 16 this happening to me,” a seemingly dazed Amrita told AIFF Media later.
They are not used to such media attention. This is the first time they are playing an international tournament. I hope this spurs her (Amrita) up to lead from the front,” Head Coach of the team Maymol Rocky added.
The Bihar centre back of the Indian team was literally mobbed by photographers of the print media first for her solo shot and then with her Bangladeshi counterpart Monika Chakma, an attacking midfielder.
“We need photographs of all captains for our publication. This is the case in almost all dailies here,” enlightened a local shutterbug.
“You see in cricket also the picture of the two captains are in demand the most. It’s the same here,” added another photographer who was one of those many clicking India and Bangladesh captains together.
“This is a picture that will be the most seen on tomorrow’s newspaper. India and Bangladesh match is billed as the The Big One here,” BFF Media and Public Relations Officer Ahsan Ahmed (Amit) further elucidated.
At the Media Interaction India Coach Rocky backed her girls to punch above weight.
“We will go everything we can t top the group,” Rocky told reporters when quizzed about her expectations from the Qualifiers.
When educated by the scribes about Jordan’s training camp in Germany and Iran’s seventh-month long rehearsal, Rocky reiterated: “They are good teams and I feel they are the favourites going into the Qualifiers.
“But football is a game won and lost on the day. The girls are hungry and we are raring to go. This is their first international tournament technically and they are upbeat.”
This Indian Team is the same bunch that won the AFC U-14 Girls Regional Championship 2013 for the South and Central region. In that meet they beat Iran by a whopping 6-1 margin. But Coach Rocky feels that it would be foolish to harp on the past rather than focus on the present.
“They are a very improved bunch. Two years can transform a team considerably and we cannot be complacent on what we have achieved two years ago.”
Iran Coach Shadi Mahini put her weight firmly behind India stating that the “both India and Jordan are the teams to look out for. We need to be on guard against them.”
Later in the day, the Indian Team practiced for the first time in Dhaka at the Rajarbagh Police Line Ground for an hour. After practice the players and coaches paid a visit to the beautiful Bangabandhu Stadium, the venue for all matches of Group B.
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)