Football life for some players might end after retirement but not for former Indian Women’s Team captain and legend Oinam Bembem Devi.
The Manipuri midfielder who played for India for more than two decades retired in 2016 after winning gold in the South-Asian Games, but football came calling once more – this time, however, through a different role.
Currently in Bhutan as the Assistant Coach of the Indian U-15 Women’s National Team participating in the SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship, Bembem feels exactly the same when she first started playing for the Indian National Team.
“It is a nervous feeling as a coach. It is like the time I first put on the jersey to represent India when I was a teenager. It feels exactly like that and it feels good because the thrill of winning a match as a coach is immense,” echoes Bembem.
“But it is different as well. After all, a coach cannot go on the pitch and play for a player. It requires a lot of patience and observe from the sidelines. At times it feels almost as if the pitch is seducing you to step on it and play,” she smiles.
“You can only do so much as a coach but you can feel the joy when your team scores or you win. That feeling is the same.” she added.
Bembem’s involvement in the youth side has also seen the players go gaga when she steps onto the pitch in training sessions to train along with them.
“It is a surreal feeling to share the pitch with a living legend,” said Lynda Kom. “We are very privileged to learn from her.”
Midfielder Jhanvi Shetty said: “She is my idol and I am blessed to take advice from her when I play. She has been an inspiration for me and everyone in the team.”
Bembem understands the girls’ fascination with her illustrious career. “I am happy that I was able to help so many girls realize their dreams of playing football. Now I am fortunate to help them through my role as a coach.”
“Football is a part of me which will never die.”