Bhubaneshwar: Ace footballer Shradhanjali Samantray, the second Orissa sportsperson after Dillip Tirkey to lead national side was accorded a warm welcome in Bhubaneswar on Thursday evening. She led the country in the recently concluded qualifying round of the Women's Asian Football Confederation in Hanoi. India defeated Guam by a huge 10-nil margin but was out of the qualifying tournament after losing narrowly to Chinese Taipei and Thailand. Shradhanjali however, believes the team performed much better this time. "Last year also we did not qualify. We had lost matches by a margin of 9 to 10 goals. This time we put up a good show and lost by just one goal. We can achieve good results if we get some exposure," she said. Determined striker Twenty-seven-year old Shradhanjali who works for NALCO has been a source of inspiration for other women footballers in the state. Her coach and mentor Nandkishore Patnaik says the captaincy of the team is a result of all the hardwork put in by the striker. "Strong will power and determination are her forte. Once she sets a goal for herself, she would do everything to achieve it," said Nandkishore Patnaik, Football coach. Apart from Shradhanjali, the other Orissa player in the national side was defender Pinky Bompal but women's football is a nascent sport in the state. Promoting the game However, in the last five years local players have shown great promise and the state sports directorate says they are doing their best to promote the game. "We have started about three years back and introduced it as a discipline at the Sports Hostel. Now five of our girls are there in the national junior team .So we are promoting it and it is one of the very upcoming sports," said R N Dash, Director, Sports, Orissa. Women footballers have the sprawling Kalinga Stadium for their daily practice, a facility that most other state teams do not have. With Shradhanjali leading by example, Orissa women's team could emerge one of the strongest in the country.
Topics : Football