Ranchi, Jan 11: Jharkhand’s Sumati Kumari is only 18 years old and has made it to the final senior women’s squad for the soon-to-be-started AFC Asian Cup in Mumbai in January. Sumati was part of a 7-member U-17 team that was brought back from their homes after the chief minister’s intervention in Morahabadi in Ranchi for dietary support and training. The Jharkhand government hosted this Indian women’s squad for three months in Jamshedpur on the instructions of the chief minister, as part of its effort to empower women in sports.
Sumati hails from Gumla from a very poor family and has been one of the most promising sportspersons of India in the last two-three years. She is the product of District Residential Sports Center and from May 2020 onwards, is fully looked after by the State Government.
Sumati became the first woman footballer from Jharkhand to find a berth in the senior women’s Indian team for the international tournament which would be played in different venues across Maharashtra from January 20 to February 6.
Praising the feat, Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, congratulated Sumati and extended best wishes for the competition.
Host nation India on Tuesday named its 23-member squad for the upcoming AFC Women’s Asian Cup, including four youngsters from the team that finished runners-up in the U-19 SAFF Championships in Dhaka last month.
While the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has not named a captain yet, the experienced Ashalata Devi is likely to lead the side in the continental tournament, which will be held in three venues across Maharasthra from January 20 to February 6.
There are no surprises in the team announced on Tuesday as 27 players had been camping in Kochi, Kerala since last month, out of which 23 had been picked.
India have been drawn alongside Iran (January 20), Chinese Taipei (January 23) and China (January 26) in Group A of the competition that consists of 12 teams.
With as many as 15 players under the age of 25 in the relatively young squad, Dennerby believes that “the youngsters and the experienced bunch can help each other out, both on and off the pitch.”
The players and support staff, who have been camping in Kochi since the team’s return from the competition-cum-exposure tour of Brazil, will fly out to Mumbai on Thursday.
India is hosting the continent’s highest competition for the first time since 1980 and at stake is a possible berth in the 2023 FIFA World Cup.