These gals know all about the sport from strikers and wingers to central defence and mid-field

The perception that football is a male preserve is fast changing. According to a recent survey by an international news channel, social media indicators reveal a large percentage of die-hard women football fans across the world. Speaking to women who are fans, revealed not only a passion for the sport but also had thorough knowledge of the game. Samarpita Samaddar, a publicist, says she got hooked onto football in 2002. “My mum and dad are crazy football fans.” Samarpita knows her strikers and wingers and her central defence from mid-field. “The only time I can tolerate numerical equations is when it comes to player positions on the field.”

Sudeeptha GV, a psychologist, developed an interest in the sport early in life. “As a young girl, I played street football.” She played as a goal keeper. “You don’t see too many women goal keepers.”

Inspired by the legendary German goalkeeper, Oliver Kahn, Sudeeptha is as interested in club football as she is in the World Cup. “I am a huge fan of Manchester United.” She agrees there are relatively fewer women football fans, though. “Out of the 10 friends who are football fans, about two of them are women.” But she disagrees that male football fans are dismissive of women football fans. “They are aware girls know their football as well.”

And what marks out a genuine football lover? “From the discussions that happen during a match,” comes her quick reply. “Those who are interested in football only during the World Cup talk about popular players. Those who really understand the sport, talk about strategies.”

Aishwarya Subramanian, a corporate communications professional, also loves the game. Her level of knowledge would leave you stumped. “My father introduced me to football in 1998 and by 2002 that I became a real football fan.” She says being a woman football fan needs a lot of hard work. “You have to know what you are talking about. This is true for men too. But people are more sceptical when it comes to women, they don’t take them too seriously.” An Arsenal and Germany supporter Aishwarya says that knowing club history earns you respect in the community. “There is something called the Glory Hunters, those who support clubs because they have won a number of times. I support Arsenal and I know their history and support them even though they haven’t won anything.”

Bangalore, Aishwarya points out, is a hub for football fans because of Bengaluru Football Club (BFC). “When I met with an accident, the captain of BFC, Sunil Chhetri called to wish me well. Even smiling was difficult for me, but when he called me, I couldn’t stop smiling.” And Aishwarya has one more reason to smile: Germany’s historic win against Brazil. “I haven’t slept this past month, but I don’t mind.”

Ankita Ramgopal, a former journalist, says she got interested in the sport two World Cups ago. “I enjoy Premier League more now because it happens more often.” A Liverpool supporter, Ankita says a genuine football lover watches club football regularly. She adds women football fans get asked one question to test their knowledge. “What is an off-side rule?” she laughs and says.

Samarpita, though a supporter of Real Madrid, says she doesn’t always get to watch club football as matches happen quite late at night. “Premiere League has more quality football because clubs choose the best players. I think people feel much more of a connection with the sport when footballers play for their country. Players cry before the game when the Anthem plays. Legends are born during the World Cup. History is made during the World Cup.” As for women being drawn to football, Samarpita says: “There is a passion in it. It is do or die within 90 minutes flat. These are the lives of women. Look at our jobs, our lives, it’s a struggle we have to win over. And that’s what football signifies.”