Bangalore-based footballer Brishti Bagchi is most likely to become the first Indian woman to play in the Spanish League. The 25-year-old is one step closer towards making her dreams come true after being picked to play for the reserve team for Madrid Club de Futbol Femenino (CFF), a team that competes in the Spanish La Liga Division-1 league.
Bristhi, who plays now for the Bangalore United FC now in the ongoing Indian Women’s League (IWL) as the team’s striker has been kicking challenges off her way to make it to the goal ever since she realised her passion lies in playing professional football. The ball has been at her feet ever since she was seven as she was studying in Centre for Learning, an alternative school located at Magadi Road, in the outskirts of Bengaluru city. Later, she was chosen to play for the Sports Authority of India (SAI) girls’ team from where she built her confidence in the game and went on to play for the Karnataka state junior and senior teams.
On completing school, Brishti furthered her plans to move overseas to pursue higher education as she realised international exposure would enable her to become a classy player. “Studying abroad meant getting equal opportunity to play while I study. Learning and growing more as a player at a crucial budding age meant life for me as I always had the interest to pursue good academics as well,” she tells indianexpress.com. “Fortunately, my dad (a mathematician) and mom (a statistician) who are both very passionate in their respective fields supported me throughout for a career of my choice,” she adds with a gentle smile.
A graduate in Kinesiology (the study of body movement mechanics) with a minor degree in photography, she started playing varsity soccer at the Oklahoma City University after which she moved to the North Texas University, from where she completed her graduation. According to Brishti, her transfer as a student-athlete helped her work on the importance of following the game tactically. “My six-year stint in the US offered great insight into how the game is played in depth as a team also giving me some opportunities to prove my mettle there,” she says.
An ardent Ronaldinho fan, she was picked for trails to Houston Dash, a team that plays in the American National Women’s Soccer League where she cleared the first two rounds. However, she could not make it to the team due to limited spots for international players but incidentally got picked by a Spanish scout for another trial in Spain.
In October 2018, Brishti travelled to Spain for training with Madrid CFF’s reserve team from where she hopes to continue her career. “This opportunity that I have got now can be a life-changer as it would also help me play wearing for the Indian national team one day but insufficient funds are the roadblock at the moment,” she says explaining why she thought of signing up for a crowdfunding initiative would help her overcome the temporary hurdle.
Brishti needs an estimated Rs 15 lakhs to survive at Madrid inclusive of her training at the club, daily commute, food, physiotherapy and accommodation. However, she is hopeful of finding a sponsor apart as the online fundraiser has managed to raise just over Rs 3.5 lakhs as of now. “A corporate sponsor covering these expenses and helping me further should turn up some day or the other soon,” she says as she rushes for training after the lunch break to prepare for the match against Baroda Football Academy in the IWL.
Her coach Chitra Gangadharan who has also trained her in the past at SAI is hopeful that players like Brishti would get good offers to perform in bigger platforms from their performances in the IWL. “Just like the Indian Super League (ISL) or the I-League, the IWL is also being watched by many across the globe. We expect more foreign clubs to see the matches live in India as it increases the chances of more players being picked to lead an overseas club career,” she says indicating that more woman footballers from India will make it to play in top leagues across Europe soon.