G. Soumya, who is picked to play in the Croatian women’s football league with Dinamo Zagreb starting later this month, has an inspirational comeback story not known to many.
In January this year, two days before the Indian team selection for the AFC Cup, she was sent back from the national camp after three months of training because of an injury to right thumb.
But, with first coach G. Nagaraju, who quit the PET post in Raghava School in Nizamabad where Soumya was first spotted by him when she was in the seventh standard and given early financial support by NRI Tulasi Krishna, saw to that she got the desired fitness training and recovery programme at Sarvada Sports Arena (Secunderabad), owned by Dynamos FC secretary Vijay.
Thanks to proper mentoring, the 21-year-old Soumya was slowly back on the field and even went on to tour Sweden with the Indian senior team.
On return, the gifted footballer, who scored seven goals for the eventual champion Gokulam Kerala in the IWL, was on the radar of the foreign coaches’ scouting programme in Kolkata.
She still needed to stay fully fit and luckily she could find support from well-wishers Kishore Reddy and Rajender Reddy at a gym in the city. That was also the phase when Telangana Football Association Secretary G. Palguna chipped in with financial assistance to meet her face the challenges.
After a couple of weeks’ fitness sessions, Soumya left for Kolkata not knowing that her father had to undergo surgery for cancer treatment. For obvious reasons, she was kept in the dark about it to let her focus on the game. However, when her father needed a second surgery, she was informed.
Soumya was shattered and even contemplated quitting the sport when she didn’t receive any support from the State government, which didn’t not give her Rs. 5 lakhs as promised after she got selected for the Indian team.
However, her coach and others prevailed upon her to continue playing by taking care of some part of the medical expenses for her father’s treatment.
Efforts which resulted in Soumya going to Croatia, after representing India in the forthcoming SAFF Cup.
“I have 13 highly talented girls training with me and I am sure at least 10 of them will play for India if given the right kind of support,” signed off the indefatigable coach Nagaraju, who is also without a job like Soumya.