Gokulam women give Kerala football what none of their men's team could ever

KOCHI: Gokulam Kerala The women's team has achieved what no team, including the men's team, has done before: winning a national soccer league title. By beating KRYPHSA 3-2 in an exciting final of the League of Indian Women ( I WILL DO IT ) in Bangalore on Friday, the Kozhikode-based team has emulated all the men's soccer teams in the southern state that have competed in the highest category in history.

As many as 12 clubs from the country had taken part in the latest edition of the League of Indian Women & Gokulam were the sole representatives from Kerala.

Making his third appearance in the annual league, Gokulam gave Kerala football a national League title, an honor for which generations of men's soccer teams, from Kerala Police & FC Kochin in the National Football League to Viva Kerala & Gokulam men in the I-League to Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League, have vied multiple times, but in vain.

It has yet to sink in that we have done something that has never been done before by a team in Kerala, said an emotional Priya PV, head coach of Gokulam Kerala women's team.

Kannur's native, Priya, is one of the acclaimed coaches in the country, as she has won two AFC gold medals as the main coach of the U14 Indian women's team during her time with the national team.

Women footballers in our state are working hard, yet how many know there are players here that like to be professional someday or that there are coaches who perform at the national level. Maybe this achievement Gokulam Kerala women's side will help women's football get more attention in Kerala, said Priya.

For a state obsessed with the ball game, where Santosh Trophy has been considered the last, the success of the Gokulam women's team has opened a new path.

Prameshwori Devi & Kamala Devi had put Gokulam ahead in the first half but their opponents from Manipur crawled back to level the tie 2-2.

With less than five minutes remaining, Nepal international Sabitra Bhandari marked the winner for Gokulam to cross the line.

This victory is the result of teamwork. Last year we went to the semifinal. This time we were determined to win the championship, Priya said. The holder of the AFC A license, the first of Kerala with the badge, prefers to take pride in the fact that they achieved it with a modest team.

"We signed some good foreign players such as Sabitra & Agbo. But the important thing is that only Aditi Chauhan plays in the first XI of the Indian team while if you look at our opponents in the final there were eight national team first XI players. That shows how determined we were," Priya added.

Captain Michel Castanha had a huge task at hand & she was a true leader on the pitch. Yet she takes no credit for it. "All the players were great today. The experience of players such as Kamala Devi, Prameshwori Devi & Umapati proved vital if you ask me," Michel said.

Michel is aware that it is a rare moment for Kerala football. "Captain's armband was a huge responsibility for me & I am now proud to bring this historic trophy to Kerala."

Gokulam's spearhead Sabitra said: "We were determined to not allow any goals but we conceded two. But we held on the pressure & played beautifully to win the title. This title is special for me because I have won the top scorer award also. I wish my success will help more girls to take up the sport in my country.'

In addition to head coach Priya, defender Athulya KV is another Malayalee on the side.

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