Oinam Bembem Devi - the star of Indian women football
Imphal: The northeast has over the years produced many talents. One of them is a remarkable 36-year-old from Manipur Oinam Bembem Devi, a football player known for her excellent ball dribbling skills and footwork.
At the tender age of 10 when Oinam Bembem Devi first started playing football, she couldn`t have imagined herself playing internationals in a few years` time.
When she turned 15 in 1995, Bembem Devi made her international debut for India. It was the start of the greatest career in Indian women`s football.
She represented the Indian women`s team thrice in 2003, 2010 and 2012 as the captain and aspires to be a coach after retirement.
"I was not much aware about the sport, but since childhood I was very much interested in playing football. I started playing with my locality children and later I started playing at school. In 1991, I represented my state and that encouraged me a lot to play football. It was then I decided to play football and make it as career. I am dedicated to bring laurels for the state," she said.
Bembem Devi is the first woman from Manipur to have bagged the title of `Best Footballer` twice. She was awarded by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for the year 2001 and 2013.
In 1996, she showed brilliant performance for the Indian women`s National team in the Asian Games held at Bangkok.
Known as a prolific goal scorer, she has scored more than 50 international goals so far. Bembem dreams to see the Indian women team play in the World cup.
" In Manipur, our Association has been conducting a number of programs for the development of football like U-12, U-14, and U-16 and grass root level. We also conduct junior tournament so we see how our senior plays and our junior see our play and we guide them and they follow us," she said.
The Manipur women`s football team has won the national football tournament 17 out of 20 times, and Bembem is its star player.