The Indian women’s football team made significant strides in the FIFA rankings ladder climbing up six places to the 57th position.
The new rankings were released following the conclusion of the FIFA Women’s World Cup where the US topped the list. Recent performances by Indian women’s team ensured they break into the top sixty, ranking higher than Iran or Jordan. The side under coach Maymol Rocky is now ranked 11th in the AFC ladder.
The eves have exuded confidence with their terrific form recently, remaining unbeaten in the last seven matches, winning six of them. After their dominating run to win the SAFF Women’s Championship in March this year, they went on to win two out of their three 2020 Olympics qualification games, and narrowly missing out on the qualification owing to a lower goal-difference than hosts Myanmar. The squad now gears up for the COTIF Cup, which will be held in Spain later this month.
Despite showing promises with their recent streak of success, the team continues to battle the odds which have gripped women’s football in India. The condition, though remains improved than what it was a few years back, there is still a long way to go. Not only blatant sexism, the players have to fight financial insecurities and also the misfortune of peoples’ ignorance.
Plagued by issues
The longstanding problem of sexism still continues to exist in world football, where people think the women’s game is inferior compared to men’s game. It is no different for India as well. Besides, we are aware of the vast gender pay disparity that came into highlight only recently when the prize money for FIFA Women’s World Cup champions was announced as $4 million, compared to $38 million won by the France national team for winning the 2018 Men’s World Cup.
The scenario is way more complicated in India, where women footballers still have to rely on part-time jobs. The players earn a sum of Rs 600 a day staying on their national duty. Despite a leap in their progress, many remain dubious about taking up the sport owing to below-par financial support.
Although the growth of the Indian women’s team has been remarkable, their success does not reflect. The Indian Women’s League is one such initiative that has been put forward to develop the sport, but the duration of the tournament doesn’t last longer than a few weeks. Further adding to their woes, there is a lack of exposure trips, sponsorships as well as inadequate facilities, which resulted in weak growth of the women footballing ecosystem in India.
On the other hand, the women’s football team fails to draw the attention of the average Indian sports lover. One of the primary reasons for the failure to attract attention can be cited as a lack of television broadcast in India, which can serve as a bedrock to foster more support.
None of the matches that the women’s team played this year was shown LIVE on Indian television. Despite knowing that India had the odds stacked in their favour in the SAFF Women’s Championships, the fans had to settle for score updates on websites to reciprocate to their own team’s victory.
For time and again, women sports have faced negligence from broadcasters. It was indeed an excellent opportunity for the Indian women’s football team, which is slowly trying to gain popularity among the mass. However, some of the major sports channels in India were busy airing the highlights of the Indian Premier League during the same period.
A woman footballer in India can only make a name for herself through an arduous journey and the relentless passion for the game, which can keep her motivated.
Building on positives
In 2019, India have played 18 games – the most they have ever played in a year. The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, which will be held in India next year, Indian women footballer can expect more positives are coming their way. So far, they have shown sheer determination and hard work to represent their country at global stages.