Bettiah, Jan. 11: A day after Bhaichung Bhutia had his last hurrah for Team India soccer team at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, a girl from Narkatiaganj reached Ahmedabad with dreams to represent her country in national tournaments.
The girl from West Champaran district would rub shoulders with 29 others selected from across India at the national camp in the Gujarat capital for a berth in the Under-13 national squad. Meet Soni Kumari, whose training session would start on January 15. The camp would continue till February 18.
Soni is the third girl to make the district proud by getting a call to a national soccer camp for women. Before her, Wazda Tabassum and Ansha made it to the national football team. Daughter of a horse carriage puller, Soni had to toil hard to get a call to the national squad. She used to practice for long hours to fine-tune her skills.
Soni’s father, Lalan Paswan, always wanted to make his daughter a sportsperson. His joy knew no bounds when he learnt Soni was selected for the national camp. After Soni left for Ahmedabad on Tuesday, Lalan told The Telegraph: “Despite hardships and practical problems in the family, I always encouraged Soni to be successful in life through games.” Lallan expressed his gratefulness to Soni’s coach, Sunil Verma, for her success. He said: “Verma treated my daughter like a father and taught her several nuances of soccer. He was always encouraging, too.”
Verma, the Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar Bihar University coach, said Soni had the spark to make it big in soccer. He said she was dedicated to the game.
“Soni never used to be late for practice. She always arrived before the scheduled time of training. Often I saw her running around the ground alone before the practice sessions,” said Verma, also the physical training instructor of TP Verma College at Narkatiaganj.
Verma, who earlier trained Wazda Tabassum and Ansha, said: “When I first spotted Soni, I could not check myself from going ahead and asking her to train under me. Under my coaching, she worked very hard. She excelled because of her dedication to the game. I am very happy over her selection in the national camp because the achievement of a teacher is linked with the success of his/her students.”