BENGALURU: It’s time for Karnataka football fans to cheer for women’s football too. Bangalore United Football Club (BUFC) will be the only team from the state to compete in the second edition of the Indian Women’s League (IWL) — the national league of women’s football — organised by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). BUFC got the nod after topping the KSFA Women’s League with an all-win record (30 points from 10 matches).
The feat BUFC had achieved couldn’t have been without their head coach Chithra Gangadharan. The former India international has been nurturing young footballers for over three decades. Under her guidance, BUFC scored 37 goals in the state league, while conceding only once in the entire campaign. She believes that a good show in the state league has worked as a confidence booster for the team and it would help them in the IWL. But more than doing well in the league, Gangadharan is happy with the exposure her team would get.
“It’s our first appearance in any national league and I strongly believe the league will be a great exposure for my girls. Our win in the state league has boosted confidence of the entire team. I hope it also helps us in the league,” said Gangadharan, who is the only woman from the state to have an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) ‘A’ coaching licence.
BUFC are in Group B of the IWL, which also consists of teams like Baroda Football Academy, FC Kolhapur City, Manipur Police Sports Club, SAI-STC Cuttack and Sethu FC. Considering the experience other teams have, it is going to be tough for BUFC. However, Kamal B, the team manager, seemed confident of putting up a good challenge.
“It’s a tough challenge but I believe in my players and expect a good show this season. We are in a strong pool and will be meeting teams with experienced internationals. That will help the girls in terms of exposure,” Kamal said.
Despite financial challenges, BUFC have been able to retain the services of their skipper Amoolya Kamal. She was the only player from Karnataka in the India squad that won the gold medal in both South Asian Games and South Asian Football Federation Championship in Dhaka in 2010. Besides her, the club has also been able to recruit former Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham midfielder Tanvie Hans. The Indian-origin English player is their only foreign recruit for the club and her experience will come handy in the IWL.
“Finance is the strongest challenge we face as a club. The clubs we are going to fight with are fielding elite players who pay them a huge sum of money. While we are not able to do that, we are ready to take on the challenge and are prepared to fight until the end,” said Gangadharan.