While the hard work continues on the field for the Blue Tigresses, attention to minute details are also being paid off the field to maximise the results. One such area where the Indian Women’s Team has been maintaining a lot of attention is the diet.
Being in a training camp for six months ahead of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, the Indian Women’s Team has its meals and dietary supplements closely monitored by the support staff, with the menu being set as per the training schedule and its requirements. While these may turn out to be restrictions for some, it has turned out to be a boon for the players.
“It’s not something that people realise often, but when you are on a good diet, it helps with you mentally as well,” captain Ashalata Devi said to AIFF. “You feel good both physically and mentally when you train well, and have good food to supplement it to help you keep strong for all the physical exertions. It has a big impact.”
Of course, no great thing comes without sacrifices, and the Blue Tigresses have made a lot of those in recent times.
“We have made so many sacrifices over the last 2-3 years, as a lot has changed in terms of what we eat and what we avoid,” continued Ashalata. “I think we used to have more cheat days before. Now, we even eat healthy on many of the cheat days, because we know that the next day at training, we will have to get back to the same level.”
Veteran midfielder Kamala Devi is someone who has put off having her favourite Manipuri dish Hirumba (an assortment of vegetables) till after the Asian Cup.
“Yes, Hirumba is my favourite dish, but I’ve barely had that in the last few months. The last time I had it was right after returning from our tour to Brazil, on one of the cheat days. Now I’ll probably have my next Hirumba after the Asian Cup,” she informed.
Attention is also paid to the individual needs of the players. Kamala, for example, has been advised to consume more proteins in her meals or supplements.
“The staff also makes dietary assessments for individual players. It’s not like home, where you eat basically what’s cooked for everyone else. For example, my weight is a bit on the lower side, so I have been asked to have more proteins to build up my strength,” said the 29-year-old midfielder.
Overall, the players have, over the past few years, moved forward together to a stage where they themselves understand the importance of a good diet, and do not need to be policed about the same.
“Knowledge sharing is a big factor, especially when it comes to diet. We were not always aware of these things before, but now, every player knows its importance,” said defender Manisa Panna. “Even the youngsters nowadays know what to eat and what to avoid, and even when they’re at home, they try to stick to a strict diet.”
“We can clearly see the results of this knowledge sharing on the pitch,” Manisa further said. “The players are fitter, they have less fat content and more muscle mass in their bodies. They are all faster, stronger, and have more stamina. All these things contribute to your game.”