Bend it like Soumya

Initially, Soumya’s parents were reluctant to send the girl (one of their three daughters) to football. But, they yielded to Nagaraju’s persuasion and the young footballer, who was passionate from the start, has never looked back since.

For her part, Soumya is immensely pleased with the mentorship of her coach G. Nagaraju.   -  V V SUBRAHMANYAM

At 16, Gugolath Soumya is already an inspiration for many girls willing to take up football as a career. This girl, born in a tribal family at Kishan Tanda in Nizamabad district, has been playing football since 2012 and has already had the distinction of representing India in the under-14, 16 and 19 years AFC championships.

This when the State (even in unified Andhra Pradesh) women’s football was nowhere. But interestingly, once coach G. Nagaraju spotted Soumya competing in the sprints events in schools athletics meet and felt that she had the speed and energy to be a better footballer, it turned out to be the decisive moment of her career.

Initially, Soumya’s parents were reluctant to send the girl (one of their three daughters) to football. But, they yielded to Nagaraju’s persuasion and the young footballer, who was passionate from the start, has never looked back since.

“She is a gifted, natural athlete, very aggressive and doesn’t bother about anything once she enters the arena. She is always trying to be the dominant player,” points out the proud coach who runs the Care Football Academy with the help of like-minded friends N. Sudhakar, Tulasikrishna and Reimal. The academy has a staggering 120 trainees (boys and girls), and 10 of them are being given residential coaching and education free of cost!

For her part, Soumya is immensely pleased with the mentorship of her coach. “But for him, I would have been nowhere,” she says after showing her skills in a friendly against the SATS boys team at Gymkhana Ground here.

“I am fortunate to get the kind of start I got representing India in such major events, and my ultimate target is to represent Indian senior women’s team,” says the striker who was also the joint-highest scorer in the AFC under-16 championship.

Soumya says that the post-match analysis by her coach and Palguna Sir (G.P. Palguna, former international and now secretary of Telangana Football Association) is really helping her and other girls prepare for the PM’s Cup Inter-zonals in Jammu & Kashmir.

A huge fan of Cristiano Ronaldo, Soumya is confidence personified and her coach chips in to mention that the next two to three years are the toughest and most challenging for the young footballer.No wonder, Nagaraju has been ensuring that Soumya doesn’t have a mobile of her own to ensure there are no distractions.

That Soumya means business is pretty evident by the way she stays in touch with the other big star from Nizamabad - hockey international N. Soundarya. “Soundarya Akka is a huge motivation for all of us. I will be glad to earn a reputation like hers in my game,” signs off the young champion footballer.

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