Geethanjali has always shone ever since she signed for Sethu FC. The rousing midfielder was integral to last season's Senior Nationals success and reveals her determination to help the club in the upcoming Indian Women's League, 2019 which set to start from May 5 in Ludhiana, Punjab.
The never give up formula of hers is what the youngsters today should inculcate from her journey. Setbacks and disappointments only made her stronger and her family and coaches are whom she owes her journey. Let's look at how her road with troubling and with her hard work and determination only got better with time!
To start off, tell us a bit about your early years. Who introduced you to football at first place and did you always want to be a footballer?
I have always had a liking for football and my liking aspired me to become involved with the game when I joined Immaculate Heart Girls Higher Secondary School, Avadi, Chennai. Eventually, after getting into the school team my interest in football started to grow. The school gave more importance to sports because it's a quick leveliser. And the interest grew in such a way that "Football Thaan Vaalkaye".
When did you realize that football is going to be your passion and profession?
Being a fearless tackler and superb header was may be the advantage for me. I was selected in the Under-18 state team as a defensive midfielder a few months after I joined the national camp. I used to enjoy playing the sport. And I never had any aim to make a career out of it mainly because I was unaware of the fact that women's football exists in the country. My coaches and family made me believe that if I continue to play like I did, I could look forward to a bright future where football is concerned.
What was the women's football scene like when you first started playing and did you face any adversity growing up as a girl wanting to play football?
The women's football scene was still developing at the time but to be honestI didn't face any problems at all as a girl wanting to play football.
Every morning I would wake up at 5 and start my day with practice session.I started loving sports when I was being very regular to practices. It wasn't easy but I made my mindset that I will give 100% everyday in my practice.
My practice and hard work gave me a huge result, when I was selected to play for the under-18 Junior Nationals Camp in 2014. Because of the abundant opportunities I got from Immaculate School and the support I gotfrom my coaches as well as my family made me whatever I am today. I haveaimed to play for the Senior Nationals this year so I am practicing hard for it.
What's the team and your expectation this season?
We are aiming to win the league and play good football. My main aim is to get as many minutes and to play consistently as best as I can.
Any player you admired while growing up?
I can't name one since no other sport unites teammates as much as football does, that's why I call the sport as "a family."
I was a striker when I joined my school team. My seniors and former players would come back for training and they would share their experiences with us. Learning from them helped me to get better and eventually, I was lucky enough to play for a team like Sethu FC and playing in a such an esteemed league like IWL. Also, I owe a lot to these coaches who have time and again gave me the confidence and helped me improve the game.
How was your experience of playing for and representing your country?
Playing for the national team is a dream come true, because you get lot of exposure and play with different circumstances and coaches which rewards the ultimate experience.
Honestly, I started to play the sport only because of the sake of love that I had for it. I did well at the state level and got an opportunity to play for the India Junior Camp in 2014. It wasn't something that I expected and my happiness knew no boundaries. I made it to the squad, but then came the most devastating news of my father passing away and I had to withdraw from the squad. I have had equal share of ups and downs but I always strivehard to do better every time. I have aimed to play for the Senior Nationals this year so practicing hard for it.
What's been the best moment of your journey as a national level player?
My greatest moment was when we won the Senior National games in 2018. We were definitely the underdogs against the strong Manipur team but we beat them 2-1.
How instrumental the club was in your footballing career?
This is my second year with Sethu FC. The club has been instrumental in making me better person both on and off the field. You can see here that the club is providing players with great coaching, great facilities and great opportunity. They helped us develop a really raw piece of talent that is now anchoring a community. I'm really proud of that.
How do you feel last season went for the club? What are you hoping to achieve his season both for yourself and for the club asa whole?
Last season, we had a solid team, we played some good games as well but we faltered due to our own mistakes as we couldn't capitalize the chances.
We played the semifinal against a strong Manipur side, the score was 0-0 till the end of 90-minutes and then the game went on the extra-time where they scored a late goal to seal the victory. It was definitely heartbreaking as we gave all and played our hearts out but this season, we have signed some top quality players with the hope of winning the title. Our focus is only on the league.
And personal goals, I would say I am expecting to score a header goal as lately I have been scoring lots of header goals and hope to achieve the same in the IWL next month. And like all the teammates, I want to play as team and help them in every which way.
What would be your ultimate achievement as a football player?
Each one dreams to wear that blue jersey. Each one dreams to play for theircountry. Each one dreams to be among those eleven on the field. And it's nodifferent for me. I would like to play for the Senior Nationals team and I ampracticing hard to achieve the feat this year.
How do you prepare for a big game?
Plenty of rest the night before and I try to stay relaxed until the match starts and then stay focussed.
How big do you think the IWL will get to? Do you ever see it rivaling the Men's game?
I think the IWL will continue to keep growing massively with lots of schoolsbeginning to run girls football teams. I hope that one day in the future the IWL will be as big as the men's game and hopefully with the increase of interest from younger children and schools this will be possible in the years to come.