If there is one thing which Indian football has lacked over the years, it is an ‘icon’. Yes, there was Bhaichung Bhutia and currently there is Sunil Chhetri. But none of them have made the global impact to truly gain iconic status, to catapult the beautiful game in India to the next level. In FC Pune City’s 12-year old teenage sensation, Senorita Nongpluh, India might finally get its very own Marta, the Brazilian legend.
Youngest player to play in Women’s League
At the precocious age of just 12, Senorita Nongpluh, hailing from Meghalaya has become the youngest girl to play in India’s Women’s football league. When FC Pune City were trailing against Rising Students Club in the Indian Women’s League (IWL) semifinal, the head coach Kalpana Dass, decided to turn to Senorita, to turn the match around, despite the presence of much more experienced heads on the bench. FC Pune City ended up losing the game, but Senorita did enough to turn heads in the game. This led to many kids coming up to her and asking her for her autograph, despite the fact that she belongs to the same age group, being only 12 years old.
Impresses Bembem Devi
Bembem Devi, the greatest female footballer which India has ever produced and the player which Senorita idolizes, has been left in awe of the young forwards ability. Devi stated, “She was amazing with her dribbling skills. Some of her tackles reminded me of my young days when I used to play in a similar fashion. She has a lot of talent and will definitely represent India one day.” Senorita got to play against Bembem when FC Pune City played against Bembem’s club Eastern Sporting Union, and was left in complete awe after this experience. She stated, “I tackled her and was able to steal the ball; it was surreal. I wasn’t even born when she was captaining the national team. Playing alongside a legend of the game was a pure joy. I tried to show my best to impress her.”
Still a long way to go
FC Pune City have acted wisely by not putting unnecessary pressure on the young girls shoulder. At her age, she needs to be handled with care and given proper guidance and coaching. With a proper professional training regimen and good coaches behind her, egging her on, sky is the limit for young Senorita. In Senorita, India finally has a player with a potential to truly gain iconic status in Indian and international football and if the system treats and guides her properly, India will finally be able to boast of a true superstar in international football. Until then, she just has to knuckle down and concentrate on her game, trying to reach her maximum potential.