Attacking midfielder

Alpana Seal of West Bengal, who was adjudged the `Best Player of the Championship.'-Pic. K. GAJENDRAN

ASKING a young sportsperson from Kolkata if he or she liked football can be blasphemy. It is a religion there. Even Sourav Ganguly, the Indian cricket captain, is a keen footballer. Thus, to receive a smile from Alpana Seal, the gifted mid-fielder of the Bengal team, when asked, "how she took to football" should not be a surprise. "Everyone in my family, my brother, father — all played football and love the game," she said as a matter of fact.

For 10 years, starting at 14, she has been playing national football and the experience showed that afternoon in the final against Manipur when she made a valiant attempt to take the fight singlehandedly to the rival camp.

For one who adores the Brazilian star Roberto Carlos, Alpana did her bit as an attacking midfielder, chipping the ball upfront, distributing passes with a touch of assurance and executing free kicks with ambitious tries. She was about the only player in her team who could essay kicks without rival legs coming in as hurdles. Because, she was just as swift as the Manipuris in her movement and acts. Working and playing for Income Tax, Alpana has the benefit of a regular league in Kolkata, which involves 11 teams. To that extent she believes she is well-tuned to the game and that showed in her international experience as she has represented India five times. And there is more to come considering her enthusiasm and hunger for perfection.

Like any Bengali, Alpana was indeed disappointed that her State could not win the crown. However the satisfaction she derived was that the team had tried hard. If only Alpana had able support, maybe Bengal could have scripted another tale.