Rahul Brahmbhatt is a contributing writer to Think Sport.
After a two year hiatus from international competition, the Indian women’s national football team is currently competing in the 11th Annual South Asian Games was held from January 29th to February 9th in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
As a result of not scheduling any international friendly matches for the squad since October 2007, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport’s global governing body, removed the Indian women’s team from the world rankings.
Football has long been a popular sport in India for women’s football enjoyed immense popularity and participation in the 1970s. Due to organizational changes and a new leadership, the sport has suffered over the last 25 years. While all resources are provided to the men’s team, the women’s team has no similar support.
The seeds for the recent shift in spirit and support can be traced back to a conversation in 2009 between All-India Football Federation (AIFF) president Alberto Colaco and United States Soccer Federation (USSF) head Sunil Gulati. That meeting led to the USSF sending a coach to lead two weeks of training and running a coaches’ clinic for the Indian women’s team. This inspired members and coaches from the Indian men’s team to offer coaching and training support as well.
This story underlines the importance of placing importance on every level of competition for a sport to maintain success. These levels include recreational, regional, and international. This can only be carried out by a strong national governing body that is able to balance short-term activities with long term vision.