A shot at glory for Sethu FC

Sethu FC – a club based out of Madurai – will make its debut in the Indian Women's League (IWL), which is set to begin on Monday.

Kalpana Das: "The level of competition in the IWL is entirely different as compared to the National Championships."   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Eighteen-time champion Manipur was well-poised and widely tipped to clinch the National Senior Women's Football Championship in early February. Everything seemed to go as planned but Manipur's shot at a record 19th title suffered a rude jolt from an unheralded Tamil Nadu team.

For a side that had never made the final in the previous 22 editions of the contest, Tamil Nadu showed remarkable composure, shattering its underdog tag to remain undefeated through the competition while romping to a stunning 2-1 win over Manipur in the final. The girls rejoiced as they made history by becoming the first southern team to clinch the title.

Coming off their historic win, 10 members from the TN team will now form the core of Sethu FC – a club based out of Madurai – in its debut campaign in the Indian Women's League (IWL), which is set to begin on Monday.

"The level of competition in the IWL is entirely different as compared to the National Championships. There, the cream of TN is playing but here the cream of India is playing, " Sethu FC coach Kalpana Das told Sportstar from Shillong. "This is our first time in the IWL but we will definitely put up a tough fight," she asserted. 

The road to qualification hasn't been particularly easy for the team. "It was our first time taking part in qualifiers (in November) and the equipment, infrastructure, accommodation, and food was all new for the girls. It took them a while to get into their groove because of the weather and all.

"We've now been in Shillong for three days and are still getting used to the conditions. The weather is very chill here, unlike how it is in our hometown. The girls are trying to cope up and we will put in our best," she noted.

Commenting on the difficulties she faced as a coach with regard to preparing the team for the IWL, she said, "In TN, getting players from each district is quite a task for us. We have only been training together for the past five days.  This is a major challenge for us. Teams such as Orissa and Manipur have been training together for long because the girls are from the same district. Defeating such teams will be a challenge for us."

Gunning for the title

Captain Indhumathi Kathiresan, who had a stellar run at the National Championships and was named the player of the tournament, is confident of her side's title chances. "Having clinched the Nationals, our goal is to now win the IWL. It is going to be tough but I believe in the team," she said.

Asked if captaincy brings added pressure to her game, she said, "I am a little nervous but it's an honour to be the captain of the side. I will repay the coach's and the team's faith in me."