In the latest Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) ‘It’s My Game’ episode, Maymol Rocky, the first female head coach of the Indian women’s national team, highlights her expectations for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 and how it will transform the landscape of women’s football in the country.
Like most women footballers in her country, Rocky, an AFC Coach Education Panel member, started her sports career in athletics. “Football was my second sport but in Goa, if you could run, then you can play football,” said Rocky.
Encouraged by her athletic coach, parents and brother, she became a footballer at a time when the sport was only beginning to gain traction among girls. “At the beginning, the physical aspect of the sport looked harder than I initially thought. But as people always say, if you share a passion for something, go for it.”
And it did not take long before her passion propelled her onto the elite stage, making her national team debut at just 17 at the AFC Women's Championship in Chinese Taipei in 2001. Despite enjoying a long and illustrious playing career, Rocky attributes her appointment as the first female head coach of the senior national team as one of her greatest achievements.
“Leading the women’s national team has always been my dream. And I believe that this is the highest position everyone desires. I was surprised to achieve this accomplishment, but I was also proud of myself.”
The road to success was not easy, and while Rocky acknowledged the challenges along the way, she remained resolute in pushing the boundaries to elevate the standards of women’s football in her country.
“Being a female coach is a bit difficult, especially when I was attending the coaching courses. There was always an uncomfortable zone when I was preparing for the practice sessions alone. But as I told my girls, there are challenges you have to face. If you are doing the thing that you love, you will find a way to overcome it.”
From the inaugural Indian Women's League to staging international women's football competitions, the women’s game in India has reached numerous milestones in the last 20 years.
“We have the advantage because of our population size, and there are no shortages of hands coming together to develop the sport. I am sure we will be one of the top Asian teams in the future. But everything takes time, and we will eventually achieve our goal as long as we are on the right path.”
It has been 20 years since Rocky proudly donned the famous blue jersey to represent India in the most prestigious women’s tournament in Asia but in 2022, she will lead the team in a different role albeit with the same passion and honour.
“We are all excited for that day. Hosting the AFC Women’s Asian Cup will inspire a lot of girls to take part in this sport,” said Rocky.
“I would like to thank the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for all their efforts in women’s football. I am confident that there will be more female staff members in women’s teams and regional football federations and their inspiring stories will definitely attract more women and girls to join this beautiful game and to consider football as their future career.”
The AFC’s “It’s My Game” campaign, which continues to highlight the valuable contributions of women in Asian football, has been viewed more than 665,040 times and reached over 2.17 million people across the AFC’s digital channels.