India international and Gokulam Kerala right-back Dalima Chhibber wishes to see more I-League and ISL teams field women's team...

Monday, 15th April 2019 07:15:00 AM

From tagging along with her father, who is also her football coach, to watch his team play to donning the Indian national team kit and becoming a SAFF Champion, Dalima Chhibbers career growth has been remarkable. 

Recollecting the stunning strike, Dalima Chhibber told Goal, "A lot of practice has gone into (scoring long-range goals) and it has made me confident. I felt really good (after scoring vs Nepal), my phone wouldnt stop buzzing after the goal. It was a great feeling that people got to know the potential of womens football in India.

"If you see the attention my goal received last year and the attention my goal got this year, it was a lot more. It is improving, considering womens football does not have a long history in India, teams take time to grow and it is still growing. In the coming months, it is going to be better."

In an exclusive chat, Chhibber told Goal , "Im really looking forward to playing for Gokulam Kerala. I am really happy and excited to be a part of the team. This is one of the teams that has been consistent in terms of indulging in womens football.

"This is a second time in a row that they are participating in the IWL. I really appreciate that. They are also one of the best clubs in India, every budding footballer would look to play for a club like Gokulam."


Chhibber is pleased with the level of football in the league and feels that the structure of womens football in India has improved.  "The IWL experience has been really good. I have seen the IWL grow over the years. With the number of the teams, this time we have 14 teams participating. The level has been growing every year.  "I feel the structure has improved if you look at the last four months and the amount of exposure that was given to the Indian womens football team. There is more focus and even the higher authorities are focusing on womens football. With the coming years and the amount of success the national team has achieved in the four months, it will improve.

"In the IWL, if you look at 14 teams, around 20 players in each, you can imagine the number of women footballers who will be playing. It will keep growing."

"We are not that far from that situation (games with high attendance). Only if people are made aware of the matches, where the matches are happening and at what time they are happening because if you look at the number of people who were interested in our Olympic qualifiers, there were a lot of queries about where the matches are taking place. People actually went on and searched the Facebook pages, got the links and shared it among themselves. People are not aware of the games being telecast and where the womens team is playing.

"The numbers have definitely increased. If the matches are organized at a place where there are the most number of fans, now consider organizing a league in Kerala, we would have a lot of people watching the match. The viewership has increased a lot."

She also credited the work put in by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to support womens football in India. "The AIFF has put in a lot of hard work, considering the exposure and opportunities they have given us. They are doing their part. The point here is the support that the federation gets in terms of promoting the sport.

"It would be better if more ISL and I-League teams start participating in IWL. Even this year, we have only Gokulam participating in the IWL. Now only if these clubs come in and develop a football team, imagine the fans that they have. If they make people aware of womens football, imagine the impact it is going to have on their fans and the people who follow those clubs. Even the All India Football Federation (AIFF) needs support, in terms of broadcast and other factors."

After the success of the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup hosted in India, the federation has won the rights to host the 2020 U-17 Womens World Cup. The Gokulam Kerala right-back is hopeful that such a showpiece event will encourage more young girls to take up football as a career. 

"It will be a step in the right direction, it is always the best to work with the junior age group. It will bring out a lot of young women footballers, it will be an encouragement for people to pick up football and know how you can make a career in it. It will help the senior team as well in the long run to get better players from a young age."

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