Sangita Basfore: ‘The thought of playing the AFC Asian Women’s Cup in India helped us stay motivated through the COVID-19 lockdown’

With the AFC Asian Women’s Cup set to be held in India in 2022, the spotlight has arguably never been brighter on the Indian women’s football team. India qualified for the tournament by virtue of being the hosts, but fans will be expecting a fighting performance, if not more. But it is not just the fans who are eager to strut their stuff for the Indian women’s football team. The players themselves are also eager to give their best. In fact, according to midfielder Sangeeta Basfour, the idea of ​​playing in this prestigious tournament is what motivated the players during the uncertain period of women’s football due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indeed, while the men’s soccer home schedule was eventually played behind closed doors in 2020, the women’s had no such luck. Women are back on the field, but the long gap doesn’t make things any easier for the athletes.

However, women have risen to the challenge and, perhaps more importantly, are focusing on the bigger picture. An international tournament of this stature, after all, would do wonders for the exposure of the game in India.

And Basphore is keen to play a big role in that.

“The COVID-19 pandemic was an issue for all of us, but we motivated ourselves to play. The AFC Asian Women’s Cup is a huge deal for all of us, and it has also helped us stay motivated,” Basfour told Sportslumo in an exclusive chat.

“We continued to work hard through the pandemic for this very reason. COVID-19 didn’t make things easy for us and we are relieved to get out of it and start training.

“We are not wasting whatever time we are getting and we will keep working.”

How it all began for Sangeeta Basfour

It’s little wonder she focuses only on working hard. After all, from a young age she was put through the motions by a family member—who also happened to play the sport professionally.

“In 2007, in my hometown Kalyani in West Bengal, national programs for women’s schools were organized. At that time I felt that I can play football and make a career out of it.

“My uncle Bejoy Basfour, who also played football professionally, asked me if I wanted to play and I said yes. This is when he will conduct practice and training at his academy.

“I used to sit and watch those sessions. That’s how my journey in the sport began.”

She is now 25 and is a seasoned pro, having been capped 29 times for India. However, there was little doubt about his talent and he was called up for the first time at the age of 19.

In fact, her rise has been so much that she even captained the team once against Uzbekistan in the 2019 Turkish Women’s Cup match.

Everything came sooner than expected for the young girl from West Bengal. In fact, such was his ascension that he even got a chance to play alongside one of his heroes – Bembem Devi.

“When I started playing in national events in 2009, I was a big fan of Bembem Devi. Everyone was her fan, she was such a good player and I wanted to see her live.

“When I got a chance to play with her, it just showed me more how amazing she was. His game certainly inspired me then and still inspires me.”

Inspired by Bembem, Sangeeta Basphore now aspires to serve as an inspiration for girls aspiring to take up the sport in future.

‘AFC Asian Women’s Cup will encourage others to take up the sport’

And Bosphorus, for her part, has no doubt that the AFC Asian Women’s Cup will eventually inspire girls to take up the sport one day.

“We are all very excited to be playing in the AFC Asian Women’s Cup in India. This will surely help in encouraging more people to take up the sport. Even people who may be struggling with family or other issues will be willing to get out there and start playing.

“Their families will also undoubtedly support them and help make the country proud in the game of football.”

As of now, Sangeeta is completely focused on the tournament and making sure that she is prepared for the same. Her talent is undeniable, but she is not even thinking of going abroad.

This is a route that more Indians are beginning to take. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Bala Devi and now Sandesh Jhingan have also moved to Europe to pursue their careers.

However, as it stands, Busfor is entirely focused on

He said, ‘I haven’t thought of playing abroad yet. Right now, the focus is only on the Asian Women’s Cup. However, even after this the hard work will not stop.

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