Atisha Saini - A 15 year old footballer from the slums of Mumbai is getting towards International Arena
Atisha Saini is a 15-year-old girl who dreams to play football at an international level. When I watched her play, I was actually thrilled to see how she dodged the ball and scored back to back goals."My journey of football started at the age of 10, when I first saw my friends playing football. That was the time when my interest in playing football developed. But I was always made to sit outside and watch them play, as I was a girl. Later on, I started playing with my friends in my locality and learned a few tricks and techniques from them."
My parents always supported my dream of playing football and permitted me to start coaching for it. But the society where I live didn’t support my dreams. They were opposing my decision as they thought it would also influence their daughters to leave their homes and play. My father’s friends used to tell him that he should not allow me to play football. They asked him not to allow me to wear such shorts and play. Many people passed comments when I used to go for my coaching. But my father always encouraged me to focus on the game and not on what others think.In the meantime, I realized that just playing football with friends would not help me in developing my skills. When I was in school, I saw some of my friends going to Oscar Foundation on Saturdays. We used to play football together before. But their game was improving slowly whereas I was not able to improve. I asked them to take me along with them to Oscar Foundation for proper training.
Oscar Foundation gave me the right exposure and proper training that I didn't have. After joining Oscar, I came to know about many things like Ball Passing techniques, Ball judgment, running patterns, when to pass a ball, etc.Oscar, not only helped me in enhancing my football techniques but also guided me in pursuing my education. Because of my excellent record in education, my mentor from Oscar Foundation asked me to join the selection process for UK tour. Keeping in mind my performance and academic records, Oscar selected me for the UK tour as a striker player. I was one of the 14 girls selected from all around India for tour.The dreams in her eyes have no limit. She is going after everything a footballer would need in order to become one of the top football players. Along with football, Atisha Saini is very determined in making her parents’ life very comfortable. She wants to shift her family to move out of the slums as soon as possible. But is that it? No. At the age of 16, we would always think about playing video games or watching cartoons. But, Atisha Saini is working towards educating the girls of her society through football and empowering them. She wants the girls of her society to be self-dependent and not let anyone influence their decisions.