Enduring poverty, discrimination and an orphaned youth, C V Seena has gone through enough travails in her life for it not to be made into a book. And she happens to be a former international footballer, whose skills evoked envy even in male footballers. In her heyday, she came close to be rated the I M Vijayan of women’s football in the country.
And so it was that when an interviewer mentioned the possibility of putting together her life account as a biography, she had to agree.
“I want to tell the world what I have gone through to play football so that no other woman who wants to be a footballer should share my past,” says Seena, who at one point supplied tea to make ends meet, even after having worn the India jersey.
“In my youth, to sustain myself, I had eaten what people today would even hesitate to give their cattle,” she recalls.
“Perhaps, they would make an interesting read,” says the 38-year old with a wry smile, expecting her biography — in collaboration with senior journalist D Sudarsanan — to hit the stalls within the year.
“My father was in the Navy. But he chose to stay away from us. So three of my siblings and myself were brought up single-handedly by our mother, who worked as a maid in the neighbourhood.”
With her mother’s death, life plunged into even more difficulty. “Life was difficult those days, but football is the one thing that drove myself to push my life forward,” she recollects.
Seena remembers that people called her a boy because she was more inclined to do what boys generally did — like climbing trees, riding cycles and playing football.
“I played football with the boys because no other girl would play it with me. Even with the boys, I was one of the best,” she says.
Seena started playing organised football when she got selected to the Ernakulam district women’s team in 1986. From there she has represented India in five tournaments, including an invitational tour to Germany where Indian women got to play against their national side, and attended 35 national camps in her more than a decade-long football career. Today, she is a sales tax employee and coaches kids at three academies in Ernakulam, besides engaging herself in helping schools put together girls football teams.
The state of women’s football in Kerala, she avers, is a lot like her life. “For the most part, it plays second fiddle to men’s football in the country and for the rest, is neglected by those who should care,” adds Seena, an AFC ‘B’ license holder, awaiting an opportunity to train the senior state women’s team.