Not a household name at the moment, Ritu Rani is banking on next year's AFC Asian Cup to become one. So is Karishma Shirvoikar, and many others representing the senior Indian women's football team.
Ritu and Karishma feel hosting next year's FIFA U-17 World Cup and Asian Cup will "change" the country's women's football scene, motivating more girls to try taking up the sport as a career option. Both of them are looking forward to putting their best foot forward in the Asian Cup.
"This will definitely bring about a change in women's football all over the country and girls would take it as a career option," Karishma told PTI. "Both The tournaments will showcase a high level of women's football and motivate people to support women's football. It is a good opportunity," she said.
India will be hosting both the major events in 2022, with the continental tournament scheduled at the beginning of the year. Both Ritu and Karishma are expected to be among the women representing the senior team in the continental meet for the senior team.
Though she is not part of the squad touring the UAE and Bahrain for friendly matches, striker Karishma is trying her best to make a comeback into the team.
"It is motivating for the team to go on exposure trips. As we get to play at the highest platform and compete with big teams, the pressure is there for sure," she said. "But, at the same time, the players and coaches are working very hard to prepare the team for the upcoming Asian Cup and give their best performance. We all are preparing and working very hard to fight for our position in the team. We had a few exposure trips. I can say that I will fight for my place in the final squad for the Asian Cup," Karishma, who had a training stint in Spain, added.
Mid-fielder Ritu, who is known for her tackling and aerial ability, is satisfied with the way things are shaping up for the team. "Preparations are going on for AFC with the exposure tours and camps. The teammates and coaching staff are supported well and the aim is to perform well in AFC Asian Cup."
On the upswing that the women's game is expecting in the country, she said, "Hosting the Asian Cup and World Cup is a big boost for women's football, it will encourage girls to play the sport from a young age and make a career out of playing football at the highest level."
Ritu is grateful that they are able to camp and go on exposure tours amid the Covid-19 pandemic.