While the city’s male footballers have a host of tournaments, such as the Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA) League, to look forward to the entire year, there is a serious dearth of events for their female counterparts.
Bandra Packers’ Laura Estibeiro (right) in action during women’s football championship final held at KSA ground on Saturday. Pics/Bipin Kokate.
On the sidelines of the seven-a-side KSA football championship for women, conducted by the Karnataka Sporting Association (KSA) on the occasion of International Women’s Day on Saturday, many players slammed the Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA) and the Western India Football Association (WIFA) for their apathy.
Bodyline’s Juhi Shah
“It’s been 15 years I have been playing football. There were days when we lost hope but we motivated one another and kept each other’s enthusiasm alive. I love football and I play myself so that I could motivate the younger girls,” said Sea View’s Jennifer Peter Rayar (28), who scored six goals in the tournament and was handed the best player award. Meanwhile, Juhi Shah, who plays for Bodyline Football Club and won the best defender award, slammed both MDFA and WIFA for not promoting women’s football.
Sea View's Jennifer Rayar
“It’s really sad that every year we have to go and convince the MDFA officials to have a women’s tournament. To keep ourselves motivated we end up playing private seven-a-side or five-a-side events. The kind of politics that’s there at the national level, I have lost hope of playing for the country. Hence, I prefer refereeing.”
Bandra Packers’ 34-year-old Laura Estibeiro, a former India player, lamented, “Forget the local or state tournaments, the senior nationals for women was cancelled this year.”
Former India and Kenkre FC’s defender Natasha Mistry remarked, “The situation that we are in is depressing. With not many tournaments for women, we end up playing the shorter format more. “A seven-a-side tournament is better than a five-a-side tourney but then not everybody gets to play. Even parents of many players stop them from playing as there is no future for girls who play football.”
Meanwhile, Sea View beat Bandra Packers 2-1 via tie-breaker to emerge champions of the inaugural KSA women’s football championship. In the shoot-out, Sneha Ture and Rayar scored for Sea View, while Estibeiro found the back of the net for the Bandra outfit.