Sun, 03 Dec 2023

Bhubaneshwar (Odisha) [India], October 6 (ANI): Two promising players of the India Under-17 Women team for the World Cup, Shilky Devi and Astam Oraon, firmly believe the team bonding and the ability to communicate with each other easily remain the biggest strength of the squad.

Astam who hails from the Banari village in the Gumla district of Jharkhand, and is currently a part of the national team set-up, had played several international matches at the junior level and had also been a part of the Senior Women's Team camp earlier.

"I believe the biggest strength of our team is the strong bonding among us. It has helped us immensely to grow as professionals and also at our personal levels. Without this sense of bonding, it would not have been possible for everyone to be together," Astam told

Shilky Devi, from Manipur, was the youngest of the senior squad when she was called by India women's National Team coach Thomas Dennerby for the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup earlier this year and now, she is a part of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup squad, too.

She said: "We communicate among ourselves extremely well - that's actually the key factor in our team. We have been together for almost seven months now and know each other in and out. We are always backing each other-- It is like a morale booster for all of us."Both Shilky and Astam played together in the SAFF U-18 Championship earlier this year and are now part and parcel of the team. They are considered more experienced ones in the team compared to others. While Astam is leading the team from the front as a captain, Shilky is a dependable defender.

Astam is an avid follower of Ashalata Devi's game, the captain of the Indian Women's National Team. She takes inspiration from her on and off the field about captaincy and tries to implement it in her way.

"There are lots of instances where I need to keep my calm as a leader, which is the most difficult thing to do. When we fail sometimes, I cannot cry in front of my teammates and show my weaknesses because if I do, the others will become weaker. So, I communicate with them about things that went wrong and try to maintain their confidence level. This is the biggest lesson I have learnt from Asha didi," Astam said.

Meanwhile, Shilky said: "Whatever I have learnt through my footballing journey, I share them in bits and pieces with my teammates. I try to help them as much as I can. I do not have any particular best friend in the team because I like to be with each and every one."The team consists of 21 players coming from different parts of the country, showcasing different cultures. They were camping in Jamshedpur since April before coming to Bhubaneswar two months ago.

"It is seven months since the girls from different parts of the country are here. Sometimes we sit together and talk about different things. It has helped to improve the bonding and communication among ourselves," Shilky said.

Both the girls are super excited about taking part for the first time in the upcoming World Cup.

"It's going to be a historic moment for us if we can win and earn some points. I am very grateful to everyone who has supported me throughout and made this dream of mine come true," the Manipur-born defender said.

"I do not even know how to express my happiness into words. I am very excited as well as nervous on the eve of taking on the pitch in the World Cup. It is a big occasion and I will have to give my everything into it," concluded a confident Astam.

India has been drawn in Group A in the World Cup alongside USA, Morocco and Brazil. They will face USA on October 11, followed by Morocco and Brazil on October 14 and October 17, respectively, at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The tournament will go on till October 30. (ANI)

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