Perhaps it was destiny or perhaps it was just sheer hardwork and the never-say-die attitude. When Eastern Sporting Union clashed against Rising Students Club in the finals of the Hero Indian Women’s League (IWL), little did anyone predict that it would not be the repeat of the final of the first edition of the Indian Women’s League where Eastern Sporting Union had won comfortably 3-0.
For the majority of the final on April 14, 2018 it felt so, after Eastern Sporting Union had taken an early lead in the 13th minute through Roja Devi. Much against the grain, Rising Students Club had been awarded the penalty in the 71st minute and forward Sanju smashed it into the back of the net. Rising Students Club had just level proceedings.
“It was a surreal moment for me,” recollects Sanju when she scored the penalty. “We needed something to spur us in the finals and that was the changing moment which led us to win the second edition of the Hero IWL.”
Rising Students Club held on for the remainder of the match and took the match onto penalties wherein the club perhaps took revenge of losing the finals a year ago, winning this time 5-4 in the tie-breaker.
“We always knew it was not going to be easy for us,” said Head Coach Sukla Dutta. “It was a battle till the last moment but we proved we were stronger mentally and as a team.”
“We played with unity and everyone uplifted each others’ spirit and that is when you get a winning formula.”
But was it just sheer luck? “We worked hard to come here and losing the final again to the same opposition would have been hard, but when you work hard things go your way and I believe that happened for us,” Sukla Dutta added.
Sanju, who was awarded the ‘Player of the Match Award’ for her performance in the finals, agrees. “Eastern Sporting Union are a very strong team, infact they were the favourites to win the finals but through sheer hardwork and playing collectively we defeated them.”
“It was a special moment for our team and we will always revere it”, she stated.