Indian women’s football team striker Karishma Shirvoikar feels there are more girls from Goa with the potential to represent the country.  

The 20-year-old, who was selected to train with Spanish professional third division side CD Fontsanta Fatjo at the age of 18, grew up training with the boys in Odxel, a small seaside village in Goa.

“I used to play with boys in Goa and decided to take football as a full-time career,” she said. “I feel a lot of girls can play for India from Goa. Practice is needed and strength is very important. I think there should be more tournaments for girls.”

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The Indian team is currently in Jamshedpur, training for the 2022 AFC Asia Cup and is set to leave for UAE on September 30, where it will play two friendlies against the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia.  

The side will then travel to Bahrain to play two more friendlies against Bahrain and Chinese Taipei, followed by a stint in Scandinavia for matches against two Swedish league teams, subject to relaxation of quarantine rules for Indian citizens arriving in the region. Currently, travel from India to Scandinavia is limited to essential travel only and visitors will have to complete a 10-day mandatory quarantine along with a negative RT-PCR test.

Indian football legend IM Vijayan had echoed Karishma's sentiments earlier this month, stating that hosting a World Championship for women would inspire more girls to take up the sport.  

A fan of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karishma began her journey through the Vedanta Women’s Football League and currently plays for Gokulam Kerala in the Indian Women’s League (IWL). She elaborated on the impediments in her football development during the pandemic and thanked the Jharkhand government for the camp in the Steel City now.

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“It was very difficult to practice at home. I couldn’t go to the ground, couldn’t work on my strength. Now I can work on them, and I feel I have gotten fitter,” she said.  

“The facilities are also very good – the ground, the gym, and everything,” she added.

The Indian team will return home after the friendlies as it gears up for the AFC Asian Cup scheduled to begin January 20, 2022. India has never won Asian Championship, but finished second, the last time it hosted the tournament.  

Karishma, too, is optimistic about India’s chances. “(We have) played practice matches with Jharkhand. With exposure, our performance will get better. We will give our best and will try to go to the semi-finals,” she said.