Now that the World Cup is on, football is all everyone is talking about and so are we. Except we’re talking about two 16-year-old girls from Sholinganallur, Tamil Nadu, who are playing football, breaking barriers and making headlines.
Anbarasi and Chamundeshwari study in a government school in Sholinganallur, and are a part of the Sholinganallur Higher Secondary school girls football team. The pair doesn’t just play football as a hobby: they’re state-level players gaining recognition from unexpected places. Their skills compelled the supporters of Arsenal Chennai Supporters Club (ACSC) to recognise their effort and support them in their game financially. It’s through ACSC’s video, which they uploaded on their Facebook page, that we got wind of the talented ladies.
“We started playing football when we were in class 9. Up until then, we didn’t know about it. Prior to that, our parents wouldn’t send us out. They were conservative. Football was tough in the first year and our parents were reluctant to send us to play tournaments,” says Anbarasi.
With the support of ACSC, these girls got their much-needed boost. “Arsenal (ACSC) sponsoring us instilled the belief that even we can do something great and achieve our dreams,” said Anbarasi.
Aaron, who is the coach of the Sholinganallur Higher Secondary school girls football team, talks about the tournament where these girls were spotted by ACSC. “We took them for one of their tournaments, where we met the Arsenal Chennai Supporters Club. They had organised the Canon Cup, which happens every year. All other girls there were playing with boots and they (Sholinganallur Higher Secondary school girls football team) were playing in canvas shoes. Late Mr Uday Balan (ACSC founder) spotted that the two girls were extremely talented and deserved to be given better opportunities.”
The members of ACSC not only helped the girls but provided the team with necessary equipment to play football, like coaching kits, shoes, uniforms and football. The girls’ dreams aren’t just limited to football though. Anbarasi says, “I want to study well and get an engineering degree. We are from a financially below-par background. Mine would be the first generation to graduate from my family and I wish to take care of my family for having faith in me.”
As for Chamundeshwari, “I wish to study B.Com and get through via football using the sports quota. We are all hoping that would happen. Later, I want to take up football coaching as a profession.”
The ACSC’s gesture was not only admired by numerous people in terms of likes and shares on social media, but also shared by the Arsenal FC themselves. ACSC’s dream is to see these footballers play for the Arsenal’s women’s club.