With the Hero Indian Women’s League 2018-19 season having kicked-off, Indian football fans can relate to one familiar club in midst of all the teams. Gokulam Kerala FC stay the sole one amongst all Hero I-League, or Hero Indian Super League clubs to have fielded a women’s team in the ongoing Hero IWL.
The club from Kerala had fielded their team for the first time in the 2017-18 Hero IWL season. As the team prepares for their second campaign in the top league of women’s football, Gokulam Kerala Technical Director Bino George feels that it is the “sheer passion” which has driven the club management to be one among the participating teams.
“Our management is very passionate about developing football. By football I don’t just mean men’s, but women’s football as well. We are the only club amongst all Hero I-League, and Hero ISL teams to have a women’s team. That just goes to show how serious we are,” Bino smiled.
Having signed as many as five Indian National Team players, Gokulam FC have further aspirations of building strong youth players who they hope would make it to the Indian National Team squad in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup next year.
“We started with a proper training camp before the tournament. We are hoping that some of our players from the club will even be good enough to make it to the India U-17 World Cup squad next year,” he stated.
The Indian National Women’s team has grabbed headlines in recent times, making their first-ever appearance in the Round 2 of the AFC 2020 Olympic Qualifiers, besides winning the SAFF Championship.
However, as there are no players from God’s Own Country in the National Team, Bino has supposedly formulated a plan which could put Kerala on the Indian women’s football map once, and for all.
“Nowadays, most of the players in the National Team are from Manipur. The players from that part of the country are very strong, both physically and technically. But I think we can improve the quality of women’s football in Kerala as well,” Bino said.
“In Manipur, football is the most popular sport. But in Kerala, a lot of young kids, boys and girls, go into athletics. What we have figured out is that we need to scout some kids from athletics, and put them in the fold of the beautiful game,” he explained.
“Whenever you have any athletics event, you would always see that Kerala is the state that brings in a lot of medals for the country. The likes of Muhammad Anas (Yahiya), PT Usha, PU Chitra have all done our country proud,” said Bino.
“As coaches, our duty would be to teach the kids technique, and tactics. But the basic attributes like speed or strength will already be with them since they have been into athletics.”
“Athletics is a hobby for most in Kerala. We need to draw them to Football too. Super coaching can do the trick,” Bino explained.