When they left for Kathmandu, winning was all that mattered. But on Sunday evening, when their flight touched down at the IGI Airport on Sunday, the members of India Under-14 girls’ football team just wanted to get back to the ‘beautiful game’.
The 23-member contingent — 18 players and five officials — are from different parts of the country and will reach their homes only on Monday. The young footballers said they are already looking forward to getting back to the game in a few days.
“The Under-15 nationals are coming up. When I asked the girls about it, everyone collectively cheered and said they wanted to play. Everybody wants to get back to the game. Whatever happened, they are not going to dwell on it. They want to play the nationals scheduled to take place in Orissa,” Maymol Rocky, the head coach, said.
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She said while the girls had constantly been in touch with their parents, the first thing everyone did on landing was call back home.
Monika, a Mumbai-based physiotherapist who is a part of the team, spoke about their ordeal. “When the earthquake struck Nepal, the entire team was in the stadium. All team members decided to stay put at the stadium. We were sharing whatever food we had. Fear had driven people in Kathmandu out of their homes.”
The Indian team had been slated to play Iran on April 25, but the match was cancelled after the quake shook up Dasarath Stadium. The team had been warming up in the stadium, when the first tremor shook Nepal. They did not try getting back to their rooms at the Hotel View Bhrikuti in Kathmandu, and instead stayed at the stadium till they were rescued.
The All India Football Federation was constantly in touch with the Indian embassy in Nepal and with the External Affairs Ministry to ensure that the U-14 girls get priority in extraction.