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Meet Saloni Singh: The Football Star from Sangam Vihar Breaking Barriers for Girls in India!

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Sangam Vihar is Asia’s largest unauthorized colony. It has very narrow streets. One side of the road is filled with garbage thrown from houses, shops, and passers-by, and the other side is dug up, making the streets narrower still. Motorcycles, e-rickshaws, cows, and pedestrians all fight for space. Fighting the same battle is a tanker-walla, driving his vehicle, which is a behemoth for a road this tiny, and getting cursed by everyone on the way.

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Saloni Singh hails from this area, living in a small room along with her parents and sister. She is now one of Delhi’s promising footballers who has represented the state and even played for Odisha FC in the professional Odisha Women’s League. Saloni’s parents are compelled to work in private companies to manage their family financially. Saloni has two sisters. One is married. The other sister named Roshni had a silent but crucial role in building up Saloni’s football career.

The Beginning

The 18-year-old footballer, while studying at a local school, used to play athletics. Her elder sister, Roshni used to play football. Once, the school organized a selection trial before building up a football team. Both the sisters appeared for the football trial but Saloni Singh was not chosen for the final team while Roshni got selected. This incident created zeal in Saloni’s mind and she took up football as a challenge. But as she had to change her school, Saloni could not play the game for around two years. She was finally spotted by a coach named Anirban Ghosh. Under his tutelage, Saloni developed her skill. Ghosh did not have any specific ground that time. They used to practice at local public parks.

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Then, Saloni and a few more girls took initiative to turn a big garbage dumping area into a ground through relentless hard work for months. Even they sowed seeds of grass and made it grassy ground before starting to practice under Ghosh. Saloni practiced and played even local matches against the boys at that time as there were not many girls to join her.

Saloni said,

“Whatever I have learned about the basics of the game all credit goes to Anirban Ghosh. I would not have prospered if they had not taken care.” 

The Rise of Saloni Singh

Saloni has already represented Delhi’s women’s team in the women’s national championship this year. Even the coach of the Delhi team Arun Misra was impressed to have watched Saloni’s speed, mentioning that Saloni was her surprise weapon in the nationals. She played against the toughest team in their group, Chhattisgarh. Saloni’s assist helped Delhi make a draw against Chhattisgarh. Saloni has also participated in Odisha Women’s League (OWL) this year for Odisha FC.

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The joy of success

Saloni is happy today to watch a lot of girls from this ‘unauthorized’ area playing football. She said,

“At the beginning, a lot of people in my area criticized me for playing football. Today they often adore me. Now all the girls in our area practice there. Ghosh sir comes and trains us. We get a lot of support from the parents who also are sending their girls to play the game and build up their career through football.”

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