New Delhi [India], March 7 (ANI): Mothers play an important role in the development of an athlete and members of the Indian women's football team are never shy of pointing this out.
In a panel discussion ahead of the International Women's Day, members of the team - Ashalata Devi, Dalima Chhibber, Aditi Chauhan, and Bala Devi - spoke at length about the importance of women playing sports. A lot of their discussion was centred around the struggles and inspirations of female athletes in the country and they agreed on one common inspiration - their mothers.
"For me, it (inspiration) starts at home. My mother has been my rock, she has been the biggest support, she has been my biggest cheerleader and I guess there have been times where she has driven me to do better than I was doing. She inspires me to be my best every day, and after that, it has been my sister," said the Indian women's team fullback Dalima Chhibber.
Indian women's football team also goes by the moniker 'The Blue Tigresses'
Dalima Chhibber said her elder sister was into sports as well and she followed her.
"As a younger sister, I wanted to just follow whatever she was doing," she said.
Aditi Chauhan said she has had to face "obstacles of perception" from society but support from her mother is something that has carried her a long way.
"A lot of things come from society but through my journey, I've seen my mom taking on a lot of these things herself and she didn't let them come through to us. That's a very important thing for a girl who wants to make her way, try to do something different, " she said.
Chauhan was also encouraged by her grandmother in her efforts.
"My grandmother has also contributed majorly, especially in the early days because my parents were working. She came down to Delhi from another city and used to take me to camps. She is also an active member of an NGO which works for women's empowerment. They are the ones who made me the person I am today. All my beliefs and things that I stand for have come down from them," she said.
Women football captain Ashalata Devi has had a slightly different experience as her mother did not see bright prospects in football and was keen that she focuses on academics.
"At first, my mother did not really support it. It's mainly because she didn't see anyone around us achieve much in football. She'd ask me to focus on my studies instead. I often used to sneak out secretly to play. If I got an injury before reaching home, I'd try to walk straight instead of seeing my mother see me limp. If she ever saw it, she wouldn't let me go out and play the next day," she laughed.
"It was her way of being concerned and taking care of me. She was worried about me getting a serious injury while playing against boys. It was the same with my grandmother, "said Ashalata Devi.
However, once the defender began to make headways in the sport, her family saw the importance of football in her life, and then came the full support.
"Eventually, they all accepted the fact that I'd keep playing football once I got selected for the India U-17 National Team. After that, I got nothing other than their full support, and that was really important, " recalled Ashalata. (ANI)