How Maymol Rocky Put Indian Women's Football Team on Path of Success in 4 Months
Indian women's football national team coach Maymol Rocky spoke about how she built the current team, the Indian Women's League and more.
Indian women's football team has put up inspired performances recently. (Photo Credit: AIFF)
New Delhi: Four months, 18 matches and 10 wins - this has been the graph of the Indian women's football team this year. Those 18 matches included four competitive tournaments, where India registered eight victories, three losses and two draws.
Although the team failed to make it to the second round of the Olympic qualifiers, the team has seen more highs than lows. The team's coach, Maymol Rocky, said in the end, it all came down to instilling belief in the young team.
"First thing, I just made them believe that they are good and we can play better than other teams. It was only these girls underestimating themselves. As we have a young group of girls, it is about that. My key thing when it comes to football is we play attacking football and I made the girls believe in that and make them work on that," Maymol told News18.com.
In these four months, India lost to Hong Kong, Nepal, Myanmar, Uzbekistan and Romania but all of those learnings and hard work culminated in a 3-3 draw with Myanmar in their last competitive match.
Why is that special you may ask. India had never scored against a technically superior Myanmar side before that. In the Olympic qualifiers, they scored thrice and even led in the match twice.
Maymol explained how the change in process was tough to deal with for the girls initially but with the support of All India Football Federation (AIFF), it came to fruition.
"Initially, the girls had a tough time because it was not just about football but a lot of things like their play, food, media interactions - lot of things we had to do other than football. Football, obviously, was a part of it to be highlighted but behind that, a lot of work had to be done and the girls wanted to do it and the credit goes to them."
"Also the way the federations believed in me and the team. The federation was up for anything, any exposure tour and see how much exposure we got in the last four months. So the federation believed in the women's team and if we get the same opportunities, the future of the girls will definitely be bright," Maymol said.
STRENGTH BUILDING AND USING IT
(Photo Credit: AIFF)
If you follow the Indian women's national team, you would have heard Maymol exclaim that her team of girls have the lungs and fitness to run around for 90 minutes of football and more. And if you've followed the team's games, you would vouch for the same.
Maymol said this team lacked strength and once she worked enough on that, the results showed in their performance on the pitch.
"We have worked for more than four months together and I did a lot of strength training with the girls because we were lacking there. And then overall the long matches we played. Like I have said they can play the 90 plus 30 minutes on any given day."
"These girls are like 21 years old but if you see their intensity, you won't believe it. These performances came because of the time the federation gave me and I just made the girls believe in themselves and they worked really hard. I can say a lot of things and tell them a lot but finally, the girls have to do it."
With girls like Sanju Yadav, Ratanbala Devi and Sangita up front, this Indian team is speedy. Maymol said she had intensely worked on strategies for various styles of play and credited her team for execution on the pitch.
She said all she required was the time to build this team and once the AIFF allowed her that, she knew what she wanted for the team and how to get it out of the girls.
"I had an analyst so whenever we had an opponent, the analyst would determine their strength from the matches they had played and I know what are my strengths so whatever I need to prepare myself for, I just need to get it to the players. We would take the plan to them and then do a session on it and I think the players are very intelligent. We only need to have a session with them and they would execute fantastically."
She pointed out that there was a stark difference in performance levels, pace and quality of finishing in the first match she was in charge compared to the last.
INDIAN WOMEN'S LEAGUE - IMPROVEMENTS AND BENEFITS
(Photo Credit: AIFF)
Maymol believes that what the three-year-old Indian Women's League (IWL) does is gives the women footballers more games to play. The third season of the IWL is set to be held from May 5 to May 22 in Ludhiana.
Yes, it's only an 18-day league, taking place between 12 teams during the day in the heat of Ludhiana. However, Maymol believes that just the fact that the women footballers are playing more competitive games is beneficial on its own. With the success rate of the current national team, Maymol said that games will not be a rarity for women footballers henceforth.
"First of all, the girls are definitely not sitting idle. They've rested and have joined their respective clubs and everybody is playing in Indian Women's League (IWL). Next, what the senior team looks at is the IWL and play more number of matches - it may be for different teams but they are matches. And now IWL has so many teams."
"And then we'll be meeting the girls soon, I don't want to mention any tournament names but may be in a month, we meet them again and we are preparing them. For us this year now, we don't have any list but definitely the federation has told us that they are planning some exposure tour for us."
She said preparation for the next year's AFC qualifiers will start this year. "We will sit down and plan after IWL when we have a few fresh faces and again, we start preparing. Definitely it will not be shut because the way the girls have performed this time, the federation is up for exposure and to give us more tournaments and matches."
Even as Maymol admitted that the IWL needs to be longer and more professional, she said that everything takes time to form structure and IWL will too.
"I can definitely say that when things come up, it needs some time. This is the third edition (of IWL) and for me, the fact that these girls are getting to play these matches is the key. About the organising part, yes the league definitely needs to be longer but then I cannot comment because it's done by another department."
FIFA U-17 WOMEN'S WORLD CUP
Indian women's football hardly has a structure in place. Forget young girls, the senior footballers do not have a proper structure by which they can play regular games.
There has been a lot of inhibition about India hosting the U-17 Women's World Cup - particularly because there's still not even a proper team to field in that age group.
However, Maymol said that the scouting process is on and the focus will be on development rather than just winning matches.
"For me, the key is developing. If these U-17 girls play now, they will come to the senior team after two years so for me, that is what matters. Everything takes time and the nationals are going on and the scouting process has started. With the World Cup coming in, it's definitely the biggest event we look forward to and for me, I am happy to be on the scouting panel. It will take time but I'm sure the girls will put up a good show for us to watch."
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