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Sulanjana Raul is an exception in the field of Indian women’s football. Even her family could not imagine that one day she would don an India shirt. Sulanjana, the 15-year-old from a remote village in Bengal got selected for the under-17 Indian women’s team to take part in the under-17 AFC Cup to be held in Kyrgyzstan. Within a year, Sulanjana Raul drew the attention of the Indian women’s football fraternity by scoring 11 goals among the star-studded East Bengal women’s team in the Kolkata Women’s Football League held at the end of last year.
Sulanjana Raul: The Beginning
Sulanjana hails from a remote village named Bhagabanpur in the East Midnapore district. Her father Ganesh Raul is a farmer, who cultivates betel. Ganesh and his wife have two daughters: Sulanjana and Nilanjana. Sulanjana helped her father in cultivation regularly. She had a passion for sports since childhood. Starting with sprint, she shifted to football after being inspired by her father who had played the game in the district.
But after the Covid-19 pandemic, betel cultivation and its business took a big slump. Still, Sulanjana’s father did not give up and trained her daughter at their local football ground. Sulanjana used to practice with the local boys.
She got an opportunity to appear for selection trials at East Bengal last year and delivered an outstanding performance, scoring six goals in two selection matches before being signed by the club for the Kolkata Women’s League.
Playing with the boys
Practicing with the local boys helped Sulanjana Raul to develop strength, stamina, and speed. She said,
“I used to practice with older boys at our local ground. Naturally, they offered stiff challenges which I learned to overcome. Their tackles were too hard for me. It gave me a lot of pain. Still, I did not give up. Today I realize how I benefitted from those days.”
Gratitude to Coach
Sulanjana Raul expressed her gratitude to Sujata Kar, her coach at East Bengal, and stated,
“She was also a forward player and scored a lot of goals. That is why her pieces of advice, especially to the forwards, help a lot. I learn a lot while training under her observation.”
The Desire of Sulanjana Raul
Sunil Chhetri is Sulanjana’s most favorite striker in India. She wants to meet Sunil for once at least and take some valuable advice from him.