AIFF Press Release
The first thing that Bembem Devi did after being conferred the Arjuna Award was diving back into football. Preparations for the Indian Women’s League took up most of her time. Her club Eastern Sporting Union are set to defend their title but she thinks it is ‘harder to stay on top’ than ‘winning for the first time’.
“The title of being the defending champions creates a huge pressure on any team. It is harder to stay on top than winning it for the first time.”, is how the ex-India international described the situation.
“We are looking to give our 100% so let’s see what happens but we hope to give our best on the field”, being guarded about her team’s chances. She also downplayed the expectations surrounding her side, “There are a few players missing from last year, so we are trying to build our team in a manner where we can be as competitive as before but nothing in life is for sure.”
The round-robin format with just one team going through from each group is something she is wary of, “I respect all our opponents and are not taking anything for granted. A single match can spoil your chances in the entire tournament. So every game counts.”
The player turned coach also mentioned that how it’s going to be different this time around as she has retired and will be solely focusing on coaching. “Yes, I do miss playing and last year I think I did good enough to earn my place in the team but new girls have come up and it’s now their time to shine.”