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No jobs for 18-yr-old footballer Devnita Roy even after representing India thrice

No jobs for 18-yr-old footballer Devnita Roy even after representing India thrice

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Published: 23 Aug 2019 7:36 AM GMT

Footballer Devnita Roy from Papri village in West Bengal's Hoogly district has managed a rare feat. The 18-year-old striker has represented India in three age groups (under-17, under-18 and in under-19) in the same year in 2018, a unique statistics attained by women footballers in Bengal, it has been a rare achievement. Devnita scored 16 goals in the senior national championship last year even though Bengal was knocked out of the tournament in the quarterfinals.

Devnita’s father, Sanjit Roy is a farmer, who doesn't own a piece of land though. He is the sole breadwinner in the family of four. Naturally, Devnita has come across financial hardship since childhood. Still her passion for football never died. The reason was her father, who also used to play football in the village and earned a name for himself. Speaking to The Bridge recently, Devnita recalled, “I started playing the game when I was in the third standard of my village school. I did not have the option to fall in love for other sports as I grew up listening to my father’s madness over the game and his popularity in the district.”

Devnita started playing football barefoot with the local boys, who were mostly elder than her. Devnita explained,

Playing against them had helped me a lot. I gradually became fearless. The boys had the habit of offering hard tackles and it was natural. Seeing me on the top of the box in a goal-scoring position, with no defender will let any striker score freely. So in the early days, my legs were bruised several times while facing hard tackles from the elder boys. But later on, it helped me to increase speed and reflex to avoid their hard tackles.

Devnita, who is 5ft tall and weighs only 49 kg, credits her attributes for being able to generate a sudden burst of speed and quick reflex even amidst the goalmouth melee. She still practices with the boys elder than her whenever she plays in the village ground.

Devnita scored 16 goals in the senior national championship
Devnita Roy scored 16 goals in the senior national championship

Devnita credits hers skill development to Sujata Kar, the former Indian international footballer and presently a coach. She says, “I would not have been able to reach this position, had my father and Sujata madam not inspired and contributed continuously to help me establish as a footballer.”

It takes six hours every day for her to travel from her village to the Kolkata Maidan. So she stays at Sujata's house in Kolkata and is being looked after by her coach from all aspects. Devnita asserted saying, “Sujata madam was a striker. So training under her watchful eyes has honed my skill and other ingredients.” In addition, she often watches the video clips from Lionel Messi’s matches to have a better understanding of the game. In the Indian football team, her favourite player is skipper Sunil Chhetri, but she has not met her hero yet. Scoring the winner against Bhutan in the quarterfinal of under-18 SAFF football championship has been her most memorable moment so far.

Devnita is now preparing for the forthcoming senior national championship to be held in Arunachal Pradesh in September. Still she needs a job badly.

It has been a tremendous physical and mental pressure on my father, working hard entire day to maintain a livelihood. I want to give him some relief. I need a job.

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