Much like losing a job, when a famed athlete is turned away from a team, the athlete can use it either as a motivation to play better or, as happens with most, wilt away into obscurity. The women players from Tamil Nadu may have rewritten the football history of the state with a heroic triumph at the senior national football championship last year, but their fate remains unstirred. Few would have imagined then that Indumathi Kathiresan, a lynchpin in the team, would go on to pay a heavy price for her success. Although she subsequently cemented her place in the Sethu FC team for the Indian Women’s League (IWL), red tape in the state police department would eventually tie her down in knots.
When one thinks of the most consistent mid-fielders of the decade, one cannot overlook the greatness of this 25-year-old. Once a regular in the Indian women’s team, the dynamic striker has evolved into an integral cog and has come a long way since her foray. Amongst the leading and prolific players to come up through the flagship IWL, Indumathi has represented the Indian women’s national football team since 2014.
At the inaugural match of the state’s first-ever women league, Tamil Nadu Police cruised to a 16-0 win against Minerva FC, with Indumathi contributing four of them. While the success is evident on screen, what has exactly kept the wheels turning at women’s football in the state is its indefatigable efforts behind the scenes. It can be, thus, safely said that Indumathi has been one of the pioneers to bring a revolution in the state’s women’s footballing status.
Having represented the national side since 2014, her breakthrough achievement came when she scored as many as six goals in the 2014 SAFF Women’s Championship. Formerly a part of the Indian squad that won gold at the 2016 South Asian Games, Indumathi was selected in the squad for the 2016 SAFF Women’s Championship, where she scored two goals for the team. She became the top scorer of the tournament with four goals to her name in this year’s edition of the tournament.
Despite terrific success by her side, the mid-fielder was not given a clearance to play football for the state or the country by her employers, Tamil Nadu Police. This ensured that she was not a part of the state team at this year’s nationals. However, not surprisingly, the Indumathi-handicapped team made an exit in the semis, after suffering an excruciating loss at the hands of Manipur.
But amidst all the gloom, there is still a glimmer of hope. Easier said than done? Often referenced as a motivation to become the player she eventually became, the southpaw has used her setback as an inspiration to prove everyone wrong and ultimately get to where she wanted to be. With as illustrious a career as Indumathi’s so far, a golden girl in Indian football might just be on the horizon, who knows?