Mumbai: For many of her age, football is a game they are beginning to learn but not for Bhumika Bharat Mane, who seems to have learnt the ropes at the tender age of eight and with every passing year, has kicked her way up into bigger leagues. Now, at 14, she continues to surprise her seniors.
After donning school and state colours in different age groups, Bhumika is now set to lead the under-16 Mumbai football team for the district championship, to be held in Palghar from January 6.
While her father fights for his clients in court, Bhumika fights for her team on the football ground and wins matches for her team.
With a football at her feet, all else recedes into the background. She is completely able to shut out the rest of the world and even off the field, refuses to be sucked into the orbit of gizmos and gadgets.
She would take to the middle of the ground during the halfway mark when her father played for Dadar XI in Mumbai District Football Association leagues and the Rovers Cup.
“I would accompany him and that's how my love of the game began,” said Bhumika, taking a break from her ongoing camp on the eve of her team's departure to the Palghar to play in the inter-district football championships which began from January 6.
This fan of Cristiano Ronaldo is also an outstanding ninth grader at Canossa High School, Mahim.
A resident of New Girgaonkarwadi in Mahim, despite her age and small build, Bhumika stood tall as she rubbed shoulders with senior players, some of them double her age, at the recently concluded WIFA 2nd Indian Women’s League.
Bhumika featured in the Football School of India, Thane team. She didn't play the first two games but when she finally got the nod from the coach, she grabbed the opportunity by scoring and how -- she scored 21 goals, including a hat-trick in the team’s 7-0 win against Pune’s Deccan XI in a Group-A league match.
Sporting a trendy bob, Bhumika is often seen kicking the ball with older boys, giving them a run for the money.
What she lacks in verticality, the stocky Bhumika makes up with her versatility. She is an excellent dribbler, has perfect control over the ball and is accurate. Many a time, her power-packed volleys have caught rival keepers napping.
Bhumika has already grabbed eyeballs at the national and state levels. She represented Mumbai District in the under-14 category with distinction and won the ‘best player of the tournament’ award in 2018-19.