Having guided the Indian Women’s Senior Team to an unprecedented Round 2 of the AFC Olympic Qualifiers earlier this year, assistant coach Chaoba Devi Langam has now turned her attention to the next big thing happening for women’s football in the country.
With India set to host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup next year, the top women’s football coaches from across the country are busy scouting for the stars of tomorrow at the Hero Junior Girls’ National Football Championship 2019-20 in Kohlapur.
“The U-17 World Cup will be huge for women’s football in the country. We are scouting for players in the Junior Women’s National Football Championship here, and we are hopeful that by the time they play the World Cup, they will reach a level where they can compete against the top teams from across the world,” said Chaoba.
Chaoba believes that the young girls currently fighting it out for their respective states will need to be made ready for the U-17 Women’s World Cup. However, once they are brought at par with teams at that level, they will already have enough experience of playing at the top level, even before they have set foot in senior football.
“And once the girls that will play in the U-17 World Cup come through to the senior level, they will automatically have a certain level of experience of playing at the top level, which will obviously be beneficial for our country in the long run,” she said.
The Indian national team Assistant Coach even went on to compare some of the talent on display with unpolished diamonds. “We have seen some girls who look like they have the quality and it’s our job to spot them and then train them for the top level. When you find diamond or gold in their natural form, they are not as shiny.”
Chaoba continued: “But you need to chisel and polish them before they shine. It is exactly the same with these talented girls.”
The formula behind India’s good showing at Olympic Qualifiers
Over the last two years, the Indian Women’s National Team has created history under the mentorship of head coach Maymol Rocky and her aide Chaoba, when they qualified from their group in the first round of the 2020 Olympic Qualifiers for the first time.
To everyone’s surprise, the team went on to put up a great fight at the next stage too, an arena where the young outfit were playing for the first time.
Chaoba, who is also the only female coach from the North-east to have an AFC A License coaching badge, believes that the coaching staff’s approach of identifying the talented young players from an early stage and giving them enough preparation ahead of the Qualifiers helped them perform so well.
“We are very lucky that the AIFF and the government are providing the facilities for women’s football to grow. We have tried to lay more emphasis on the youngsters so that we can work on them and improve their performance over the course of time,” she said.
In Round 2 of the Olympic Qualifiers, the Indian team beat Indonesia and Nepal, before giving the higher-ranked home side Myanmar a real run for their money on the final matchday. The latter made it through due to goal difference, but the India girls had shown their mettle.
“The girls really responded well during the Olympic Qualifiers Round 2, where we only fell short on goal difference. Special credit goes to the players as they gave their 100 per cent and sacrificed a lot to get where they are now,” said Chaoba.