Frustrated with the lack of telecast and coverage of women's football in India, Ullas Marar started a Whatsapp group with seven members to have a conversation, share insights and keep up-to-date with the happenings of the sport. As word spread about a dedicated channel that was covering a branch of football which is often ignored, Marar took to Twitter to share match reports of women's football games.
With the help of a group of dedicated volunteers, Marar set up 'Women's Football India' (@WomensFootieIND) last October, which has gained over 2,500 followers since. Covering as many games as possible from every nook of the country to following up on persistent issues around women's football, the team has earned a reputation for unearthing unknown stories and stirring up debates on Twitter around the issues and problems that plague the sport.
Speaking exclusively to The Bridge, Marar spoke at length about the idea behind their social media handle and the challenges that they face as they strive to bring first-hand information to the users. "We were very certain that we wanted to create a space where fans could talk about women's football. People are definitely interested, but there is hardly any platform where the users can air their views on the sport."
This year, when seven Manipuri senior players boycotted the preparatory camp for the AFC Women's Asia Cup 2022 Qualifiers over differences with the head coach Maymol Rocky and assistant coach Chaoba Devi, it was @WomensFootieIND who extensively covered the proceedings, following up on the story till the very end. They also highlighted the dismal pitch conditions during the National Football Championships, which got a lot of coverage and created noise for all the right reasons.
However, Marar admits that finding information and bringing it out to the users is not a very easy task. "We have a number of volunteers like Philarima Hynniewta (student), Raghav Sastry (student) and Desmond Mathias, a techie, who work with us, and scout for information. Getting in touch with people who are going to cover or watch women's games is how we manage to get the information that we share."
He signs off but not before sounding hopeful and stating that small steps are all that it takes to take women's football to the next level. "Last year, the senior Indian team did not play many friendlies. This year, the number of friendlies increased, and we can see the improvement in the quality of the side. The team went to Vietnam and drew against them, which is no small feat. So, it's all about doing the basics right."