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We were scared but we tried to keep our cool, says Dr Monika Tarkar

Physiotherapist, Dr Monika Tarkar who accompanied the India U-14 girls football team to Nepal, speaks to mid-day of the earthquake experience in Kathmandu

We weren't sure if we would return home alive. Having reached New Delhi, I just cannot wait to head back to Mumbai, my home," were the first words Dr Monika Tarkar spoke on arrival from quake-hit Nepal on board an Indian Air Force C-17 aircraft on Sunday.

Dr Monika Tarkar
Dr Monika Tarkar 

The team physiotherapist was one of the five support staff members that accompanied the 18 under-14 India players who were in Kathmandu to participate in the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) regional championship.

They were scheduled to play Iran in a third-fourth-place playoff match at 1 pm at Dashrath Stadium on Saturday when the first tremors were felt.

Explaining the trauma the girls faced, Dr Tarkar said, "They started warming up at 11:30 am. Just after 15-20 minutes, I felt the ground was moving. I thought that it could be only me who was feeling dizzy. A few minutes later, the team coach Rocky Maymol asked everyone to leave the stadium. We saw the stadium stands moving and some players even fell while running, but we were asked to stay put again."

Dr Tarkar said that the girls panicked since they were stranded at the stadium for five hours. "They are all U-14 girls and it wasn't easy to make them sit in the middle of the shaky ground from 12 pm to 5:30 pm. We were scared for our lives too, but we tried to keep our cool. We cracked jokes to divert the girls' attention. With great difficulty we managed to reach our hotel.

The India under-14 girls football team arrives in New Delhi from earthquake-hit Nepal yesterday. Pic/PTI
The India under-14 girls football team arrives in New Delhi from earthquake-hit Nepal yesterday. Pic/PTI  

"On reaching our hotel, the magnitude of the earthquake increased, and cracks developed in our hotel rooms. Some girls couldn't control their emotions and started crying. But I must admit that they handled the situation bravely. That's when we took all our belongings and decided to sleep out in the open as a precautionary measure," she added.

Mrs Dalvi can't wait to see daughter Bhagyashree
The problems didn't end for the girls. Yesterday, since the Kathmandu airport was closed following another quake, their departure was delayed. Finally they landed in New Delhi at 5:45 pm.

Meanwhile, city footballer
Bhagyashree Dalvi's mother, Hema can't wait to see her daughter. "It has been a nightmare for us. The last we spoke to her was yesterday evening when they reached the hotel. And then we heard her voice only today evening when she landed in Delhi. This is the first international trip for her and it was the most difficult one too.

Bhagyashree
Bhagyashree  

It has brought about a turn to her life. But we thank government officials, the All India Football Federation and Western India Football Association for their prompt action. It's been two months she has been away from home and after this traumatic incident, I just can't wait to see her," said the mother yesterday.

Bhagyashree, is a Class IX student of Ryan International, Sanpada. Dr Tarkar said that the support members didn't sleep at all on Saturday night to ensure the girls were safe in Kathmandu.

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