Image Credits: FISTO STAFF
Sowmiya is still on the learning skill and she is not taking anything for granted. She reveals she gleaned and harnessed her goalkeeping skills watching the Hope Solo and has emerged as one of the brightest prospects in Tamil Nadu.
While pursuing her career dreams, Sowmiya is not interested in looking up to any goalkeeper but herself and her potentials though she doesn't hide her admiration for Hope Solo. At Sethu FC, the youngster took giants strides to highlight her potentials. Her exploits at the club includes producing extraordinary saves to help them win the elusive first Hero Indian Women’s League title.
To start off, tell us a bit about your early years. How old were you when you first started playing football and did you always want to be a goalkeeper?
I have always played football since I was little, having a kick about with my older sister, who was also a football player. I started playing for school team when I was about 14 and at first was defender. Somehow, I end in goal and it went from there. My school head master John David, P.E.Teacher Dominic Kalamary and coach Samuel was the first primary figure to instill the game of football in my life. All three of them has been always by my side and has also helped me a lot in improving my game and developing a better performance with the ball on the pitch. I played quite a lot of district and SGFI tournaments and also played my first nationals at 7th standard that is how my interest for football or taking the game seriously developed inside me.
Goalkeeping position is often seen as a maverick role, a bit like the drummer in a band! What do you think it was that drew you to goalkeeping in particular?
I found it quite easy because I’ve always been around football people since my school days. Growing up in Salem, there were always groups coming into my school to encourage girls to take up the sport. My sister was also a football player so this helped me as I watched her from such as young age and I picked up most of my skills from her and that's what helped me to develop further. I think that’s where I was first put in goal.
As a young player with an interest in goalkeeping, your role models and idols must have been very different. Who were your biggest influences at that time? Whose style of play/player do you admire the most now?
There are many great goalkeepers in the world but I don't look up to anyone other than myself. I look up to the potential I have and I use that to make sure that I reach that goal and make sure I am one of the world's best when I get older. But if you asked me who the best goalkeeper in the world is it would be Hope Solo.
What was the women’s football scene like when you first started playing and did you face any adversity growing up as a girl wanting to play football?
When I started playing women’s football in Tamil Nadu was something not-known and supported by many, even my parents didn’t allow me to play the football during my initial stage as they had no clear idea that where it can lead to or what positive impacts it had. But over a period of time as my hard work started to payoff and I started winning more medals and laurels for my school team and other places, my family started showing their support and praised me for my hard work and determination towards the game.
You’ve been selected for India at under-18 and under-20 level and been a regular member of the senior squad now? How did your experiences at National Side help prepare you for this?
Just being in a team environment and being around such good players and supportive coaches helped me prepare for India duty and the level I’m playing at now. I went away to college to study for my Political Science and play football at the same time. The skills and fitness I developed at Sethu FC helped me prepare for these challenges.
You’re a student of Political Science, what do much like about the subject and how do you juggle with sports and studies?
Juggling my studies with football training is a struggle because it’s so demanding on both sides. I have training sessions during the week on top of my lessons and preparation for UPSC studies (since I want to become an I.P.S officer in the future). But if you’ve got the right mindset and want to do well in both, you can manage through physical and mental discipline.
Who is/has been your toughest opponent and do you prepare differently to face them?
I can’t name one particular player but I always thought that playing against Manipur team will be always toughest. Their football is very direct, quick and difficult to predict.
You have played many State Level tournaments quite a long time but how did you feel when you first get called up to play for the national side?
I was actually scared at the thought of joining up with the group, but I absolutely love it now. Training with the top players and best coaches is a fantastic feeling. That has been my dream since I started playing and I have been enjoying it quite well.
The Tamil Nadu football team seems to keep growing as well as the popularity of the national side, how much do you notice the changes from inside the game?
Yes, there are a lot of things that have changed and for the better where women’s football in the country is concerned. There’s a very good setup around the Tamil Nadu region, but it could improve if there were more initiatives to get girls into playing football.
What are your current plans and goals for the future?
It has been my dream to become an accomplished footballer, but my ambition is to become an IPS officer.
What are you hoping to achieve his season both for yourself and for the club as a whole?
First of all I want to keep the maximum number of clean sheet as much as possible and help the team so that together we can put the club in the highest place in the Group and consequently conquer the title that is the goal of every player.