Hot weather, but everything better in India than in Nepal: Anita Basnet
The 28-year-old Nepal international recently played with debutants Lord's FA in the Indian Women's League 2023 season.
In 2019, two footballers from Nepal became the first from their country to come to India and play in the Indian Women's League, for Sethu FC, setting an example for the youngsters to come. While one of them was Sabitra Bhandari, the other was Anita Basnet.
"Sabitra Bhandari and I were the first ones to come to India from Nepal and play in the IWL. I came here thinking that maybe someone would watch me play and get inspired to do the same. It was also about earning experience for me," Anita told The Bridge during the recently concluded IWL 2023 season.
Hailing from the district of Tehrathum, a 14-hour drive from Nepal's capital Kathmandu, Anita explains how there weren't any facilities for sports growing up. Despite that, football was always her calling.
"Football has always been the sport of my liking. In my village, the circumstances were poor and there were no facilities for any sport. While the circumstances have since improved, football still hasn't really seen much development in Nepal," she said.
While the Nepal women's national team is doing quite well at the SAFF level, despite not having a gold medal yet to show for it, the women's club football has been quite poor in the country. The National Women's League is present, but not very stable. Anita has had the opportunity to play club football both in her home as well as in India, and she seems to have made her choice.
"Everything is better here in India. Everyone has been playing footballer since their childhoods here. Even in the matter of salary, India is miles ahead as you don't get that much back in Nepal," an honest Anita said.
Hungry for more
While her compatriot Sabitra, with whom she first ventured into a new country and league in India, finished the IWL 2023 season with the title as well as with the 'Golden Boot', Anita couldn't quite make her mark with Lord's FA, the league debutants. Nonetheless, the experience in the new team was good for her.
"The experience has been really good for me in this new team. I'm one of the senior-most players in the side and I want that those who are younger than me are able to learn something by watching me," she said.
With the All India Football Federation (AIFF) banning foreigners to play in the country's state leagues, Basnet's contract with the side from Kochi was till May 31, 2023. If next year the Nepalese midfielder returns to the IWL, she is sure to show everyone what she can do with the ball at her feet.
"I haven't really gotten much game time, and whenever I do, it's very less. When I do get more time, I'll show the coaches what I'm capable of," Anita concluded.
(Special thanks to Anita's teammate Asha Thapa for helping with the translation.)