New Delhi: Hoping to see light at the end of the tunnel, Aditi Chauhan, the torchbearer of Indian women football, has called for "greater participation of private sector" and felt a cultural shift is taking place for better as far as the game is concerned.
In 2015, the 24-year-old Aditi became the first Indian female footballer to play for a professional club in the United Kingdom, but had to return to India in January after her student visa expired.
She made a stellar comeback when Loubourough University, where she was studying, gave her a part-time job, which offered her a chance to continue representing West Ham Ladies.
Right now, the goalkeeper is in Siliguri guarding the Indian team post in SAFF Championships.
"The AIFF (All India Football Federation) has put in a lot of effort towards developing women's football and it will be even better if the private sector also contribute a bit more," Aditi told PTI.
With the introduction of women's I-League, Aditi felt the game is headed in the right direction in India.
She feels the recent spurt in activities around women's football is due to India's prolonged dominance in the South Asian region.
"Over the years (women) football in India has grown, especially the SAFF tournament, which we have always won. Our dominance in South Asia shows that there is huge potential. Hopefully, we will keep getting better and play at the top level in Asia soon. Women's I-League is a step in the right direction," she said.
Asked how different is the setup in England from India, she said, "The standard is quite high there and the most important think is that the setup is very clear and structured. Lot of leagues are taking place and available for everyone - either as hobby or professionally throughout the year. That sort of culture is coming to India.
"We (women football) don't have a very long history in India. But a lot of things have changed for better, lot more girls have started playing the game, lot more opportunities are there now. That's a major boost for us," Aditi said.
"Doing well in South Asia... that's always been there, there has to be a constant growth and I hope we will win the AFC qualifiers and keep the momentum."
The South Asian Games gold medallist team has already entered the final of ongoing SAFF Championships, and is gunning to retain the title.
Updated Date: Jan 03, 2017 18:01 PM