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Never Say Never: Once a National Footballer, Now Running a Tea Stall; Kalpana Roy Still Nourishes her Athletic Dream

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Meet Kalpana Roy, the former national team footballer, who is now running a tea stall to earn living. Yet, she hasn’t lost hope. 


  • Kalpana Roy represented the country in football almost a decade back, is now running a roadside tea stall in New Jalpaiguri.
  • The footballer was forced to quit her game for she had to look after her ailing father and other members of the family.

A native of New Jalpaiguri, Kalpana Roy is now running a tea stall in her hometown. Yet another example of how athletes who brought laurels for our nation, are now struggling their way hard to meet their basic financial needs. Yet another example of how our nation is failing our athletes. Of how we are not being able to give our athletes what they deserve – recognition, financial stability and long due respect.

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Representational Image. Image Source:

But, there is a twist here. Kalpana, who once was an integral part of the women football team, has not lost any hope. This is proven by the fact that Kalpana still continues with her practice sessions amidst the humdrum of the day, which majorly includes running a tea stall. Not only this, but she also coaches and trains 30 boys, twice a day and still nurtures her favourite dream, – to play for team India, once again, someday.

From a footballer to running a tea stall – How it happened?

Kalpana Roy was literally living her dream when she met with an unfortunate accident. During one of the Women League matches, which was organized by the Indian Football Association, Kalpana suffered a serious injury in her right leg, in 2013.

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Image Source: shethepeople

This made her quit football for almost a year as she needed the time to recover from the injury.

“It took me a year to overcome the injury. I got no financial help for the treatment from anyone. Hence, from thereon, I am running this tea stall”, Kalpana told PTI in an interview.

Kalpana added, “I was contacted for trial for the senior national side, but financial constraints forced me to stay back. I do not have a place to stay in Kolkata. Besides, if I leave, who will look after the family? My father is not well now.”

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Kalpana’s father used to run a tea stall, but due to his ill health, his daughter Kalpana has now taken over the charge of the tea stall. Kalpana’s mother passed away four years ago and she is the youngest of the five sisters – out of which four are married. Kalpana chose not to get married since she realized that her family; importantly her father needed her support in the times of financial constraints in the family.

The footballer dream is still alive

Kalpana’s financial situations and life’s setbacks did not restrain her from keeping a bay with her sporting dreams. This former national team footballer, who has played 4-international matches in the Under-19 football team, now trains around 30 boys in a coaching centre.

She coaches these boys twice a day. Once in the morning, before opening her tea stall at 10 AM, and other after 4 PM. She then continues with her tea stall after 6 PM in the evening. In this way, she is being able to keep her touch with the football practice and never lost her spirit for her favourite game in sports.

Representational Image. Image Source: NDTV

The club for which those boys play pays Kalpana Rs.3000 per month. The high-spirited Kalpana considers this money extremely important for her and her family.

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After all the miseries that she has faced, Kalpana still hopes that she will one day play for the senior level team and is fit enough for it. After all these years of coaching, she has also enough experience to guide many more budding footballers. Kalpana believes she can set up a girls football team for North Bengal, too.

“I am confident that I can contribute to the game in both ways. All I need is a job so that I do not have to worry about the family’s requirements,” the optimistic Kalpana added in her interview with PTI.

Though the spirits of Kalpana and many more lost-away-from-limelight Indian athletes are high, it doesn’t take away the fact that we have time and again failed these athletes – failed to be supportive enough for them.

Indian athletes are often offered with promises of cash prizes and jobs. But somewhere these promises remain just promises and the lack of steady jobs for these athletes, who come from a not-so-well-off family background, hampers only our country’s possibility of producing future medals.

It is our responsibility as a society, to ensure that the athletes get the support when they need it the most.

Wake up India!

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Bhawna Kothari
Bhawna Kothari
Lover of cultures, varied colors, and underdogs, Bhawna is a by-heart and professional playwright. Hailing from a journalism & communication background, she incorporates a careful study at both flips of the coin which is essentially required to be analytical in thoughts and words. Actively abreast of the current affairs around the globe, she likes knowing and bringing into light the unexplored. Problem solving via the power of content is what inspires her and hence KreedOn, a platform created for the betterment of sports ecosystem in India, is now her happy workplace!


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