Two city girls make it to Indian football team for Lanka tournament

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In the upcoming AFC Under-16 Women's Asian Cup, to be held in Sri Lanka in the next few days, there are two players who will be closely followed by coach Harjinder Singh. Soumya and Anika, who were undergoing two-month camp at Gandhinagar with the Indian Under-16 team, have been included in the playing XI for the tournament.

Anika plays as a right-back while Soumya shuffles her position between a midfielder and a forward.

Singh is ecstatic and he has reasons for it as both Soumya and Anika have been training under him at the Sector 42 Sports Complex for the last three years. "Soumya called me today and informed me about the development. I couldn't hide my joy as this is for the first time that I have trained girls and they have been included in the national team," he said.

There was something else that Soumya told him: she was named as the captain of the team for the tournament.

Prior to this, the only female footballer who had led the Under-13 and Under-16 national team was Tanvi Bhargava of St Stephen's School.

Singh has that Midas touch. Now the coach of the Chandigarh Football Academy has given three captains to the Indian team in the last two years. Prior to Soumya, both A Z Lalramzauva and Mohammad Sajid Dhot had skippered the Indian Under-16 team.

"They deserved to be in the team. They worked hard and never complained. Very often they would train with the junior boys but they kept pestering and now the results are there to see," added Singh.

Sarika, one of his other trainees, could soon be drafted into the Indian Under-19 team while the fourth player, Ekta, said to be the most talented of all, has permanently moved to America and bagged a scholarship with a prestigious American college.

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