BHUBANESWAR: Even as Nepal grappled with the enormity of the devastation following the massive earthquake, the India Under-14 girl’s football team, which comprised four players from Odisha and assistant coach Shradhanjali Samantray, had a providential escape.
When Nepal’s Capital Kathmandu was hit by the disaster, the team members had gone out to the stadium for a practice before their third place match against Iran. The match was later cancelled because of the earthquake.
Initially though, no contact could be established with the players and the family members were extremely worried. Later, the family of a player from Ahmedabad communicated that they were all safe.
The 23-member team is currently stranded in the kingdom nation where they had gone to take part in the AFC U-14 Regional Championship. Since air connectivity has put on hold, the team is awaiting restoration of the services.
Shradhanjali’s father Netrananda Samantray told this paper that he could contact her daughter late in the evening. “She said they were saved by God and the game because all of them had left the team hotel for the practice.
But they could feel the tremors while on the ground. When they returned to the hotel, they realised the magnitude of the situation,” he said. Though the team hotel had suffered partial damage, it was safe.
The head coach of the Under-14 team Rocky Maymol was quoted by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) that the team is still in Nepal. “I just want all the girls to return home safely,” media wing of the federation tweeted on its official handle. However, Shradhanjali’s family had an anxious time in the morning. “Initially, I was very concerned as I tried to call them over phone but contact could not be established with my daughter. When I got the call from Ahmedabad, it calmed our nerves,” her mother Rashmi said. The four players include Santi Murmu, Janaki Murmu, Eva Panna and Bannya Kabiraj. The Indian Under-14 team lost to Nepal in the semi-final on Friday and was scheduled to return home on Saturday after their match against Iran. Netrananda said, the team is hopeful of restoration of air services shortly.