From Playing with Boys in Jharkhand to Indian Women's League: Dular Marandi's Big Journey

From Playing with Boys in Jharkhand to Indian Women's League: Dular Marandi's Big Journey

Till recently, Dular Marandi didn't even know about the ice bath. WL has been an enriching experience for her, a place where she is learning a lot.

Ludhiana: For Dular Marandi, the touch and go football in Jharkhand has suddenly turned into the big dream as she finds herself representing SSB Women's Football Club in the Indian Women's League (IWL).

The dirt of Dumka district has now turned into the green grass of the Guru Nanak Dev Stadium in Ludhiana as she runs around with the ball in her feet aiming for the opposition's goal.

"I had never gone out before and I never thought that I would get to go out and watch this game on a large scale. Now I feel I also want to go out and play well. IWL has been a good experience," Dular told News18.com.

There is not much football in her district, she has played for most of her life with the boys and she says it is purely her passion and love for the game that has got her through.

"There's not much football in my district, it's just my interest. There is Sumitra Marandi and then me, we are the only ones playing from Dumka district.

"My motivation is not money, it's not like I want to earn a lot of money through football. When I see big players play, I feel I can also play like them and I play for the passion of the game," Dular shared.

Dular thanks her parents for wherever she has been able to reach. Her parents are not there anymore but her younger brothers are now following their footsteps and letting her live her dream.

"The boys in my district used to play football and I would go to the ground and see them play and would feel that 'I wish I could also play like them'. My parents said to me that I could also play like boys and they let me out which I how I started playing.

"My parents supported me a lot initially but they are no more. My elder sisters are married and I have two younger brothers who look after the house. I am 23 years old and one of my brothers is 22 and the other 21. They also support me to go out and play as I like."

Starting from her parents to even the boys she played football with - Dular has a lot of people to thank to help her get ahead in life. But she understands that all girls in her district are not so lucky and she wants to give something back to her place.

"There was a Father in my district, he saw my game and said he will make my life and he enrolled me in a football coaching centre in Hazaribagh. Over there a person called Nidhi, she is from Bihar, she assured that she will help me play further.

"The boys who I used to play with in my district, they have supported and encouraged me a lot. They told me there was no girl to play with in my district and they also encouraged me to go to the centre and play ahead," Dular said.

"Even now when I go back, I still play and practice with the boys because not many girls play. Not many girls have the mentality, they feel the level is very up and they can't reach there. Even if there are girls who want to play, there is not enough support from their families.

"Eventually, I want girls in my district to play and rise like I have been able to.

"When I go back home for holidays, I ask my girl friends to come with me and play. So sometimes I do try and play with them and teach them."

Scouting at small places is a major problem in India. While there are open trials every time a local or international tournament is coming up, what is lacking is continuous and good identification of talent from each district.

"My district has no football person, no coach, no one to help the players come out and that is what is needed there," Dular said.

Before coming to the IWL, she didn't even know about the ice bath. For Dular, IWL is an enriching experience - a place where she is learning a lot.

"I had never known what an ice bath is before coming here. The coaches here help and tell that if you're injured, apply some ice and how stretching is supposed to be done. I never knew all this. I am learning so much while playing here.