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The prominence of West Bengal has always been felt in the history of Indian football. Not only the men, but women have equally been a part of the 'beautiful game' that has blended well with the state's cultural fabric.
One of the most prominent names of women's football from Bengal has been Sangita Basfore, the lynchpin midfielder of the Indian national women's football team.
Being raised in a football fanatic family has provided Sangita with the extra mileage to pursue the sports. A Mohun Bagan supporter from childhood, Sangita drew her inspiration from her maternal uncle Vijay Basfore, who played for Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting.
"I was introduced to football at the age of 10, My uncle used to play in a professional league for Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan. So I used to follow his game, and I realized I can also do that. He was quite popular in our village and he inspired me to take up the sport as well. He provided me with the stepping stone in football as my first coach," said Sangita in an interview with The Bridge.
Growing up, Sangita started her footballing journey playing with the boys in her neighbourhood. She says, "I used to play with the boys in our colony, as then we didn’t have any girls team. It was pretty difficult and I used to feel uncomfortable around the boys. Then later I started playing along and then came across the girls' team."
Born in Kalyani, 21-year-old Sangita started playing at the Taltala Dipti Sangha, and their women’s football team in the Kolkata League. Subsequently, she represented West Bengal at the national level, and was called up to the India U-19 side. Three years later, she was named in the senior team for their 2016 Olympic Qualifying campaign, under coach Sajid Dar.
Under the aegis of the present coach Maymol Rocky, she is entrusted the responsibility into a more central role as a top-class defensive midfielder, who is reliable for her anticipation and aggression. She is a real fighter on the pitch, which has wielded positively in the Indian Women League for her team SSB Club (Bengal). Sangita's inspiring run in the tournament had led her team to reach the semi final of the IWL where they lost to Sethu FC.
During her interview with The Bridge, she spoke about the support she got from her school, her friends and teachers. “At school my teachers would specially arrange extra classes for me on weekends. They made sure that I always got to balance my education with football. I have been allowed to take my examination separately because of my sporting responsibilities. Besides, my parents have been the true pillar of who supported me at every stage of my career," says Sangita.
When asked about her love for giving an assist to a goal, she said, "I feel pleasure in assisting someone for a goal than scoring myself. It takes the support of the entire team to score a goal. In the midfield, my job is to link the defence and attack. I relish playing through-balls to my teammates It is always a good feeling to deliver the scoring pass to my teammate."
Sangita has even got the opportunity to captain the Indian contingent which she feels to be yet the biggest moment of reckoning for her.