Star striker Manisha Kalyan is 100 per cent “prepared” to make an impression in the UEFA Champions League, a tournament in which no Indian woman footballer has played before her.
The 20-year-old, who shot to fame last year when she scored against heavyweights Brazil in their own den, recently signed a contract with Cypriot club Apollon Ladies FC, which will play in the UEFA Women’s Champions League qualification.
“Competitions like the Champions League are what every player would have dreamt of playing, and just the thought of getting a chance to play there is thrilling. From my end, I’m prepared to give my 100 percent to play the Champions League and help my team do well,” said Manisha.
Manisha, along with her fellow India winger Dangmei Grace have made their moves abroad earlier this month, with the latter signing for Nasaf FC in Uzbekistan.
Manisha believes that with the kind of progress the country’s women’s team has made in recent times, more Indian players can make such moves in the future.
“Our girls have improved a lot. I feel there are girls in the team who can do even better. Such moves will only help the national team to improve further in the future.”
— Manisha Kalyan told the All India Football Federation.
“I hope that I can inspire some of the younger girls to work harder and make their own moves in the future as well,” she added.
She feels that the exposure she has got with the national team in recent times has helped her gain the experience and the confidence to take such steps.
Manisha has already had three training sessions with her new club in the Cypriot capital, and the attacker is looking to adapt to the new environment.
“The playing style is a little different here. It will take a little time to adapt, but I am really enjoying the intensity of training here,” she said.
“My teammates have been really friendly and approachable, so I am hopeful that we will all gel together.” Having been a part of the national team setup since her U-17 days, Manisha has got used to staying away from home for long camps.
However, moving to a new country is an entirely new ball game.
“I’ve been quite used to staying away from home while playing for the national team. What made it easy was that we were all like a second family,” quipped Manisha.
“I’ve only been here in Limassol for a few days now, but life does feel a little different. It’s a completely new city, with new people around me. It’s a bit difficult at the start, but I’ll adjust. The main thing is to do well on the pitch.”