She, once, led a brigade of top players as the captain of Odisha women’s football team. From leading the side at the national-level championship tournament back in 1992 to being a newspaper hawker, Subharani Das’ journey is one beyond anybody’s ken. But her sports venture has not been limited to football. She has represented her state in Kho Kho also from 1986 to 1998.
Once a figurehead of Odisha women’s football team, Subharani has seen it all — from glory to despondency, from failure to disillusionment. Her dedication towards sports soon died a slow death, for now, she has to distribute newspapers from door to door in an attempt to run the family finances since her husband underwent surgery in 2004. Subharani, who prides herself with a record of defeating strong teams as West Bengal, Manipur, and Tamil Nadu, now cycles around 20km from Saheed Nagar to distribute newspapers. But the hardship does not come to a halt. She also has to sell cow dung and paper containers to earn extra money.
Once a well-known as a Kho Kho player of her state, she championed her team as many as 28 times. In 1992, she captained the Odisha women’s football team in Federation Cup, organised at Guwahati by the All India Football Federation. The defender has battled it out in every sphere of her life as she continues to struggle every day. She approached the Sports and Youth Services Department for allowance in the hope of seeking financial aid. Some assured, while some belied.
Adding to her woes, the former captain of the state women’s team is yet to avail a ration card for herself. At a time when the state is looking forward to the prospect of promoting football through the launch of the Indian Super League club, Odisha FC, sportspersons like Subharani are silently shunted to the sidelines due to economic strain. Her story speaks of the state of the disillusionment that many like her go through in the course of life.