Image Credits: Fisto Sports
Dangmai Grace is a 21-year-old striker from Manipur. The sports enthusiast, who has already represented India at the Junior levels, is venturing onto her second Indian Women's League (IWL) season brimmed in with high hopes of bagging the Indian Women’s League title for the Sethu FC.
Can you elaborate a little about your past and what made you get into football?
I was very much into sports from a very young age and I used to participate in all the sports activities at school. Later on, I was selected to represent the U-14 Indian team. That was my biggest source of motivation, I came across a lot of Senior players. I admired them and aspired to become like them. I started preparing myself for it. My family has rendered their never ending support and I received a lot of encouragement from the people around me and all of it wanted me to do better and reach higher levels.
How did the chance of playing for IWL come up?
This is the second year I am playing Indian Women’s League, I played for Manipur Kryphsa Club first coached by Chaoba Devi, the present India senior women’s assistant coach.
How did you get the chance of playing for Sethu FC?
It came through my coach Chaoba Devi ma’am, when we were in a four months camp in the senior nationals. This is the second time I am playing the IWL.
How do you think Sethu FC changed your lifestyle?
Sethu FC has recognized us and has given us an opportunity to portray and showcase our talents at such big levels. I am immensely grateful to them and the opportunity I have received.
The no of teams has increased this year and so has the challenges and what do you think is the difficulty level and the competition this season, so are there any teams you are really looking forwards to play?
Indian Women's League (IWL) was initiated to develop football amidst the women playing the game. There are more number of teams coming up this season and always more the number of teams more the competition, it is always interesting to be playing in highly competitive tournaments and so I am looking forward to playing in it.
Is there any specified coach or person who has been always inspiring you to play football or who has been a constant guide to your career from a very young age?
I would like to give my credits to my coach Chaoba ma’am, she has been inspiring me since my childhood and has been my guideline, guiding me through every step and each level.
Where do you see Sethu FC finishing in IWL?
I think we have a good set of potential players coming in from diverse backgrounds and if each of us give our best, we can win the title. In addition, we have players like Indumathi and Ashalata Devi who provide and it will provide us an edge over the other teams.
How do you feel playing alongside star players like Indumathi?
It is very exciting and I have always enjoyed playing with her. It is really great to have players like her as it inspires the whole team.
Do you have any superstitious beliefs or practices before the game or after the game or while taking a penalty?
I think everybody has superstitions and I have superstitious beliefs too, before taking a penalty I have to place the symbol of the ball facing me.
You are a striker and have you felt any defender tough or difficult to beat?
I don’t differentiate players of different teams like that but I have felt the Manipur Police Sports Club striker are very difficult, their team is full of experienced players and I would consider them our toughest opponents and I will focus more on them.
How do you prepare yourself, before facing those kind of experienced players?
I don’t think much about the game. I just concentrate and try to focus five minutes before going in for a match. I don’t like to overthink things, I like to keep it simple.
How is Chennai treating you?
Long ago, I have been to Chennai twice and the people in Chennai are nice. I guess I haven’t explored Chennai fully yet but I can tell one thing Chennai is amazing but the weather is quite hotter than Manipur.
What are your hobbies apart from football?
I like singing and so I sing and it relaxes and soothes me and apart from it I like gardening in the evening and so it is gardening and singing.
Where do you see yourself going from the end of this tournament?
Playing for Sethu FC in the Indian Women’s League is a great opportunity and I see myself becoming a better and a stronger player from here.
What are Sethu FC’s goals and objectives for the season?
Absolutely winning the IWL 2019 title is our only aim. I can see them having faith in each of our potentials in winning the trophy and that is why we are here, we have a balanced side and everything we need, It is high time we give it back to them.
Being a striker you get a lot of injuries, so have you got injured before and how do you avoid them in the game?
Injuries are part of the game and it is unavoidable. And I don’t think there is any specific way to avoid an injury, I am prone to getting a lot of injuries as a striker, but I make sure that doesn’t affect my game in any way. I think it is the responsibility of a player to make sure it doesn’t let them affect their game.
Which combination of strikers do you think will be the best in the world?
I would say, Mary Abigail Wambach, Cristiano Ronaldo, Umakanta Singh are the best combination of strikers.
What is your favorite Football team?
I like the Indian National Team but I would consider my favorite club is Juventus, as Ronaldo is my favorite player.
If you wouldn’t have been a professional football, player what would you have been?
If I wouldn’t have been a professional footballer I would have been a teacher.