All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel on Friday suggested the Under-17 women World Cup squad members to inspire each other and also asked the national teams to stay patient as the players wait for action to begin.
Patel interacted with the national teams across age-groups, enquiring about the well-being of the players amid the COVID-19 enforced lockdown. The players, in a video conference, briefed Patel about how they have been spending the lockdown and Patel wished the U-17 women's World Cup squad luck. "Give it your best shot, and never be under pressure. I am confident you will do well. The new dates have been announced and all of you need to stay knitted together as a team, and raise each other's morale." The Women's U-17 World Cup, slated to be held in November this year, has been postponed to February next year.
Senior men's captain Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan and Anirudh Thapa alongside women's team members Bala Devi, Aditi Chauhan and Dangmei Grace were among the players in attendance. "We are in touch with the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs as to when footballing action can resume in India. Stay safe everyone, and don't rush. This is such a nice platform where the juniors can look up to their idols directly," he said. "I am sure that getting to interact with the likes of Chhetri, Jhingan, Bala and others will inspire the junior players," Patel added.
Talking to the group, Chhetri urged everyone to eat and sleep well. "The lockdown tends to disturb your schedule a lot as everyone tends to sleep at awkward times. That also affects your diet. So as players we need to be extra careful and stick to our routines," he said. The women's national team thanked Patel for "planning a strong International programme" which helped them play 25 friendly matches in 2018-19 as part of their exposure tours. "The experience helped us mature into better players," they said in unison.