For the first time in its history, the Council for the Indian Schools Certificate Examinations held a national-level football tournament for the under-14 girls. When it comes to such a sport, it’s usually men who are given more importance. However CISCE, in wake of breaking the stereotype, organized such a tournament and the Maharashtra and Goa team ended up winning the final match.
The League matches started on September 12, and the final was held two days later, on September 14. The winning team included 18 girls, out of which 12 were from Mumbai - Captain Stuti Kothari, Radhika Vyas, Meera Toolsidass, Aakanksha Garg, Aarya Banjara, and Anoushka Patni from Arya Vidya Mandir Juhu; Aadya Sheth, Naisha Jain, and Sharanya Kheruka from Cathedral and John Connon School; Prisha Vagal and Shreena Shah from SVKM’s CNM School, and Camrynn Fernandes from Bombay Scottish School, Mahim. Other team players were Yashika Tejwani, Myrah Mody, Ishani Kulkarni, Ishita Debnath from Pune’s St. Mary’s School, Catherina Francis from Bishop co-ed school, and Dhvani Tandel from Valsad’s Atul Vidyalaya.
FPJ spoke to a few of these players and the team coach, Mr Desmond D’Souza.
“It is an amazing feeling and I feel very happy about it. The team stayed very strong throughout and that helped us win. All of us had to manage our studies as well as the tournament. I carried my textbooks with me and whenever I got free time, I started studying. I had my mid-terminal exams going on too. But, my school allowed me to appear for the exams post the tournament,” said captain Stuti Kothari.
Player Prisha Vagal said, “I carried a few books with me to study after practice sessions. I made sure to read one chapter after those sessions, read related question and answers, and revise what I have done in school. We were in Pune just for five days in total- two days for practice, and 3 days for matches, but I made sure that I didn’t miss studying whenever I was free.” She further added that her love for physics, chemistry, and biology would result in her taking up Science grade 8 onwards.
CNM School’s Shreena Shah told FPJ that she is aiming to represent India in an International tournament, and she is working accordingly to achieve that along with her academic goals. “I will opt for science in school so that I have all my options open once I have to enter into college. During the days of the tournament, I studied while I was travelling. I also managed to get at least 8 hours of sleep to stay fresh throughout.”
MR Desmond D’Souza stated how fun and amazing a feeling it was for him while coaching these girls. He specially thanked the schools from where the players came. He said, “Schools have played a major part here. They have allowed their kids to play in the tournament and have asked them to appear for their exams later. Such an appreciative gesture. This released all the exam and studies-related pressure while they were on the field.”