Many knew her as the pioneer of women football in Kerala, but Fauzia Mampetta, who breathed her last on Friday at her home in Vellimadukunnu, Kozhikode, was much more. Fauzia was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 and after a five-year battle, she passed away at the age of 49.
Born in an orthodox family, Fauzia showed the path to not just women in her community but also across the country. She entered the field of football at a time when women were discouraged from even attending schools. But for Fauzia, the sportswoman, football came much later in her life. While studying at Nadakkavu Government school, she began with weightlifting and tasted success at the South India Championship, winning the bronze medal.
Besides weightlifting, Fauzia was a part of her district's handball and field hockey teams. She even learnt Judo and had won the bronze medal at the state level, but her love for football was paramount and kept her close to the game.
Speaking to a local news outlet, Fauzia had said that no one was willing to teach a girl football, but her father encouraged her.
During a vacation, he convinced my brothers and cousins to teach me football and let me to the ground,” she told Dool News. That's how her journey as a miraculous football player and then a coach began. Fauzia defended the Kerala goalpost at the junior as well as the senior level for almost a decade.
In 1996, when Fauzia got married, she had to move away from the game for a while. Her marriage ended and she was once again back on the field. This was the beginning of her legacy as a coach.
In 2003, four of the players trained Fauzia at the Kozhikode Nadakkavu School represented the Kerala team. Not just that, from 2005-07, the champion footballer and coach trained the runner–up Kozhikode team in the state sub-junior and junior tournaments.
According to The India Express, it wasn't until last month that Fauzia had told her students about her ailment. “Cancer has started scoring goals into my goalpost, but I will take the game to the penalty shootout, till the final whistle is blown,” she told her wards at the school.