AFC Women's Olympic qualifiers: We'll play our heart out in Myanmar, says Dangmei Grace
The Indian senior national women's team will be looking to create history as they get set to travel to Yangon, Myanmar, for the first round of the 2020 AFC Women's Olympic Qualifying tournament, having never got past the opening hurdle in the previous edition of the qualifiers.
Under coach Maymol Rocky, a training camp was held in Mumbai for three weeks in order to prepare the side for the challenge that lies ahead and as the tournament draws closer, the coach had stressed upon the importance of being efficient in attack and stated that the team is working on how to maximize its goal scoring potential and output.
One of the players who will share the burden of getting the ball into the back of the net will be 22-year-old Dangmei Grace. The Manipuri is confident about the team's chances of making it to the second round in the race for a spot at the Tokyo Olympics two years later.
"We have been working very hard in the camp," Grace told the-aiff.com in an exclusive conversation. "Our focus is on winning the first two matches against Nepal and Bangladesh, which will be extremely crucial in our qualification bid," she said.
Talking about the mood in the team, the youngster stated that the team is a motivated bunch. "Everything has been great so far. Maymol ma'am is trying hard to get the best out of the team and has been motivating us to make sure we qualify. We are certain that the team will give its heart and soul on the pitch for the country," Grace said.
The training camp also featured a number of fresh faces, with coach Rocky aiming to infuse some young blood into the team. "There are a good number of senior and junior players in the team - it is a good mix," said the winger, before adding, "The new girls adapted well to the side and gave their 100% each time."
Reminiscing her starting days, Grace also shared how she found her feet in the beautiful game. "In the start, I never had much passion for football. However, when I was 14, one of my friends asked me to play in a grassroots level tournament. So I went there to play, and since then, there has been no looking back," she explained.
Grace added, "My inspirations have been my parents, who have stood by my side throughout my journey so far and always supported me. In footballing terms, my role models are Bala di (national team captain Bala Ngangom Devi) and the United States legend, Abby Wambach."
The Indian team will begin its campaign in Myanmar with a clash against neighbours Nepal on November 8. After that, they will take on Bangladesh on November 11, followed by the last group-stage match against the hosts on November 13.