Ashalata Devi

Indian women’s national football captain Ashalata Devi, who has been leading the side with her own brand of competitive spirit, says that the fighting instinct needs to come from within.

“I always tell my teammates to fight for everything, even during training exercises. You enjoy the game, but you also want to win. And to win, that fighting instinct needs to come from within. That’s the most important thing,” the centre-back from Manipur told AIFF TV in an interview.  

Ashalata explained that this fighting spirit needs to be honed, which is why it is important to fight for even the littlest of things during training and fun games as well.

“If you don’t fight in these small matches, how will you put up a fight in the bigger ones?” she asserted.

The Indian women’s national team has been raising quite a few eyebrows of late, having earned some impressive results over the last couple of years.

And her role is praiseworthy in the success. Ashalata also became the first centre-back to be named the AIFF Player of the Year which she won in 2019.

“I genuinely feel that whether it is a friendly or a competitive game, there is always a winner and a loser. Nobody likes to lose, and that is the same as me. But I always tell the rest of the girls that it’s the fight that’s the most important,” said Ashalata.

“If you put up your best fight and still lose, there is no shame in that. But that fighting spirit needs to be there.”

While she maintains a feisty fighting spirit on the pitch, off it Ashalata presents a calm exterior when dealing with her teammates.

“Sometimes I do get hyper, but to take the team forward together, I have to deal with the players calmly,” Ashalata quipped. “If we are in a do-or-die situation, I never show my angst in front of the junior players. I have to work hard in order to present a calm exterior for the juniors. I try to push them to do extra even during training, and the best way to do so is by example. If I can do it, why can’t they?”

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