Kohlapur: The first thing that Bembem Devi did after being conferred the Arjuna Award was dive back into football.
Preparations for the Indian Women’s League took up most of her time. Her club Eastern Sporting Union is set to defend their title but she thinks it is ‘harder to stay on top’ than ‘winning for the first time’.
“The title of being the defending champions creates a huge pressure on any team. It is harder to stay on top than winning it for the first time,” said the former Indian captain while describing the situation.We are looking to give our 100% so let’s see what happens but we hope to give our best on the field,” she said.
She also down played the expectations surrounding her side, saying “There are a few players missing from last year, so we are trying to build our team in a manner where we can be as competitive as before but nothing in life is for sure.”
The round-robin format with just one team going through from each group is something she is wary of.
“I respect all our opponents and are not taking anything for granted. A single match can spoil your chances in the entire tournament. So every game counts.”
The player-turned-coach also mentioned that how it’s going to be different this time around as she has retired and will be solely focusing on coaching.
“Yes, I do miss playing and last year I think I did good enough to earn my place in the team but new girls have come up and it’s now their time to shine.”
Bembem Devi bid adieu to international football last year during the South Asian Games in Shillong, having appeared in 85 games for India and scored 32 goals.
The 37-year-old, who once took back her retirement, eventually bowed out on a high note by clinching the SAF Games gold medal in Shillong in February 2016.