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Meet Brishti Bagchi, the first Indian female footballer to be invited to train for a contract with the world’s top football league, the Spanish La Liga!
Football is a relatively new entrant to the Indian sports fan’s radar, and women’s football even more so. It’s heartening then, when a young Indian footballer gets picked to train for a possible contract with the Spanish La Liga.
Talking to Brishti Bagchi over the phone, there is a marked simplicity and openness in her persona that draws you to her. A lot of positive energy and enthusiasm oozes out of her as she shares her journey from being a student in Bangalore to training at the La Liga football field in Spain.
Born and brought up in Bangalore, Brishti’s mathematician dad and statistician mom enrolled her at the Centre for Learning in Bangalore, an institution that focuses on exploration and self-learning. “I belong to a family of nerds,” she chuckles.
Her tryst with football started at the young age of six or seven when she began playing at her school as well as at coaching camps outside the school. “My friends would call me ball crazy as I was always found outside playing football,” she says, reminiscing about her school days. Her teachers told her parents that she was very athletic and enjoyed playing sports, all of which she enjoyed, though football came first even then. Her parents were very supportive and encouraged her.
Brishti or Bri, as her American teammates fondly call her, completed her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of North Texas and also did a one-year undergraduate EEG research from the same place. She also has a minor in photography. “I don’t leave home without a camera,” she says about her passion in photography.
She is currently competing in The Amateur League in Bengaluru, a competition that is predominantly played by men. It is a great place to develop amateur and professional football players and play competitive football. She plays the midfielder position which Brishti says helps in creating winning plays for her team. “It is a treat to see a lot of those plays being converted into scores on the field,” she adds with great happiness.
One day, while training in the U.S, she was evaluated by a coach who saw great potential in her and offered her an opportunity to play football professionally at La Liga which is a world-class premiere football league in Spain. Starting in May, Brishti will be training at La Liga for four to six months to develop her tactical skills, a unique opportunity which could give her the opportunity to play in Division 1 La Liga or even represent India one day.
Women’s football is still underfunded globally. So, while Brishti is training on the reserve team in Spain she will need to cover all her costs there for those six months. These include her travel, training, accommodation and transportation expenses for six months. She needs to raise approximately Rs 15 lakhs by the time her training starts in May this year. She is requesting people to access her fund-raiser page and support her in fulfilling this dream.
Brishti feels that having a more wholesome approach to athletes in terms of their academics as well as personal growth can help in nurturing more talent in India. Bigger sports facilities and having more leagues can help spot talent and recruit more players. She says, “One of the reasons I went on to obtain my degree in the United States is that it allowed me to continue my studies as well as pursue my passion for football.”
When asked what she wants to achieve at La Liga, she says, “I intended to play to the best of my abilities over there and share what I have learned with my fellow teammates and young children back in India. I want to play for the Indian Women’s team one day and teach children about football.”
She has a message for young girls and their parents too: “They should always try to find out what their kids love doing and support them in that. Children should have faith in themselves. Especially when things start to fall apart, believe in your inner self and get going. It is a test of your determination as to how far you can go doing what you love.”
Way to go Brishti, we wish you all the best and hope that you score a goal this time too!
(This short film above on Brishti Bagchi has been created by Fotoley, a platform that simplifies booking pro photographers and videographers).
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