A futsal court – empty.
Driven by the passion for football, two women approached Penang Indian Football Association (PIFA) president and coach S. Sri Sangar.
Upon their first request, they faced an obvious hurdle. There was no way they could book the court with just two players; it was unrealistic. They were told to find more players if they really wanted to play.
Two days before their match, the women approached the coach again, this time with a different problem.
“Too many people signed up,” they said.
“How many?” the coached asked, assuming “too many” meant five or 10 players.
“80,” they replied and just like that…
A futsal court – filled.
After hearing the news, Sri immediately contacted Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP) councillor David Marshall for help. He then allocated RM3,000 for a tournament where they could book a court, provide food and give out prizes for the participants.
This happened 3 years ago.
Now, women’s football is more popular than ever. The two trailblazers kept coming back and insisting to play more matches, especially after watching an empowering Tamil film titled, Bigil, that depicted an all-women’s football team.
From a meagre two to a sizeable 145 players, they had to move from the court to an actual training field to accommodate the growing team. Recognising the popularity, Sri decided it was time for him to have an Indian women’s league.
Instead of just training on the field, the women began joining tournaments and even had a league where the winner would win a trophy. There were six teams altogether and they played every week for 2 months.
The heat began to spread and it soon permeated to different states outside of Penang. Sri called-up a few friends and they banded together to create more women’s football teams in Johor, Perak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Pahang and Negeri Sembilan.
Summed up, there are 312 players. The youngest player is 16 years old while the oldest is 56. There are even mother-daughter pairs who come in to train together.
Determined to grow the women’s league, Sri has sent in a request for a national all-women’s league that is currently awaiting approval from the Youth and Sports Ministry.
He told The Vibes, “There will also be an internal tournament so we can choose the best players to represent the state at the national level. We want the players to improve themselves, put in the discipline and commitment before we select them.”
Women have always been interested in football, according to Sri. They proudly don their favourite sports teams’ jerseys but other than that, they never had a platform to fully hone-in their interest.
Now, with the support of their husbands, these women can finally participate in their favourite sport and even earn coaching licenses to become official referees endorsed by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).
While these women are busy kicking ass and taking names on the field, they still haven’t forgotten about their looks.
Draped in beautiful, vibrant sarees and bangles as they ran around in pleats, their outfits caught the attention of netizens who praised the women for dispelling stereotypes of what a football player should look like.
To any of their haters, all I have to say is… Can Beckham score goals in a saree? I didn’t think so.
To keep up with these kick-ass ladies, check them out here.