The other world cup being held right now has also witnessed some brilliant moments.
Shrieks of excitement from fans have been in the air for quite some time now, and things are going to see a triumphant end come Sunday. Thought of the ICC Cricket World Cup in a single instant, didn’t you? But a much-deserving-yet-underrated match has made its mark in the world of international sports, courtesy its spectacular journey.
Yes, we are talking about the eighth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019, hosted in France this year. While India’s attention is majorly on the soon-to-take-place semi-final match, the grand football event is underway at the same time, and it is no alien to some amazing performances. The semi-finals of the football tournament, between the Netherlands and Sweden, held last night, had the players showcase great grit and fighting spirit. Overall, the teams have been extraordinarily. For instance, team United Stated has been impressing fans throughout their world cup debut.
The first edition of the women’s world cup was held in 1970 in Italy. It has come a long way since then, with cities such as Paris, Nice, Rennes, Décines-Charpieu, Le Havre — all venues of the ongoing tournament — seeing a prominent presence of football fans. The paths of these medieval cities are flooded with international tourists, majority of whom have come to support their favourite players, as well as teams.
From an Indian point of view, while fans always seem to follow the men’s football world cup despite the country almost never qualifying in the tournament, not many take interest in the women’s contest. For instance, Abhinandan Sen, who is considered a die-heart football fans by his friends and acquaintances, has no clue that any such tournament is taking place. He shares, “So, men’s football is very popular as we all know, but we don’t see that popularity in women’s football, and this seems to be the case for other sports too. When asked, people simply say it’s relatively less intriguing, so it’s not that prevalent as its male counterpart.”
India’s women football team had participated in the Asia Cup back in 2003, but it has not qualified in past five world cups. However, given their present ranking of 63 vs. the men’s team ranking of 145, it is an incredibly talented side. Films such as Chak De India, Dangal, Mary Kom and Saala Khadoos have helped in promoting sports among Indian women, and even though there is a lot left to achieve, things are definitely improving. According to Priya P V, a member of the Asian Football Federation (AFC) and a license- holder and management holder at Gokulam Kerala Women’s team in the Indian Women’ League (IWL), “the IWL is only three-year-old and the junior level games and grassroots development also started a few years back only. Now with every year, IWL and other junior level games are increasing in frequency and the AIFF women’s department is working hard for the development.” She is supporting Netherlands in the world cup. Indian footballers want that attention as well. However, she feels, “the Indian team is lagging in grassroots-level development and when it comes to a proper long league for women’s. It has started positively and it is continuing in that manner, and we can hope to have better things come our way in the future.”
Though, there has been disparity in the sport from old days, the Indian women’s football team has immense capability to qualify in football world cups very soon. We hope to see our domestic talents on an international platform that they very much deserve.