The Indian women's football team members are delighted at the prospect of playing the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022 finals in front of home fans and feel the event can do wonders for the development of the game in the country.
India will host the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 finals, continent's biggest tournament for the first time since 1979. "I am very excited that a tournament of this magnitude will take place in India and I thank the AIFF for bringing the Asian Cup to our country. We have one-and-a-half years to prepare for it and I am sure that we will put on a good show," head coach Maymol Rocky told AIFF website.
"People are getting more and more aware of the progress made in women's football in India. The girls will get the opportunity to play against the top countries in Asia and fans will get to see the best teams such as Japan, Australia, Korea and China live in the stadium, which will go a long way to develop interest among young girls and parents," the coach added.
The Indian side is currently ranked 55 in the world, having won the gold medal in its most recent outing at the South Asian Games 2019 and recording draws in away friendly games against Uzbekistan and Vietnam – both of whom are ranked higher.
Captain Ashalata Devi, who was among the three nominees for the AFC Women's Player of the Year 2019, said that getting to play in the Asian Cup will be a 'dream come true' moment. "I would like to thank the AIFF and Women's Committee as they made a lot of efforts to bring the tournament to India. It's a huge step for us and the entire continent's eyes will be on us," the centre-back said.
She also highlighted the importance of the tournament to her and the players. "Ever since I have been playing football, I have never shown any of my matches to my mother. I was waiting for the right moment and now in 2022, I want my mother to come and watch me play against Asia's best teams."
Goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan feels it would be a "huge responsibility" to live up to the expectations of fans in the tournament. "It is an amazing opportunity for us to prove and show our supporters why they should believe us when we say women's team has the potential to play at the top level. "There is now a huge responsibility for us to put forward the image that we want our supporters to have of women's football," Chauhan said.
Women's football in India has been growing leaps and bounds in recent years and with the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2020 set to be held in February next year, the two mega-events are expected to give a big push to the game.