Bigan Soy is still in a state of disbelief. Her 15 minutes under the bar during penalties in India’s bronze medal match against England in the women’s junior World Cup still feels like a dream to her.
Soy, who did not take the turf during the whole tournament, was fielded for the one-on-one shoot-out, and she saved six of the eight she faced helping India claim the bronze medal in Monchengladbach, Germany.
“The last save (in the sudden death) was the best one for me. I used my feet and my hands to save it,” said Soy, describing it as the most joyful moment of her life.
“Even though I had not played for even a minute in the tournament, I did not have any fear (in facing the shoot-outs).
“I knew I was capable of stopping a few shots,” said the 20-year-old from Jharkhand. Asked about the strategy of fielding Soy at such a crucial juncture, coach Neil Hawgood said: “She was the best for the job. Sanarik (Chanu) was our best goalkeeper, and we needed our best goalkeeper on the field all the time.
“(But) When it came to one-on-ones — whether it was quarterfinals, semifinals or the third place match — it had to be Bigan Soy.”
Goalkeeping coach Helen Mary, who was part of the 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning Indian side, also praised Soy.
“Bigan is good at shoot-outs. Her confidence was high,” said Helen.
A few years ago, when she moved from her remote hometown in Singhbhum to Ranchi to train at the Sports Authority of India centre as a footballer, little did Soy know that she would earn fame in a different sport.
“I used to play football. Once, there was no hockey goalkeeper at the SAI centre, and our coach told me that I should play as a goalkeeper, since my movement was good. So, I switched to hockey.
“My strong points are my movement and my reflexes,” said Soy, who has represented the country in the under-18 and the under-21 Asia Cups.
“I hope to graduate to the senior level and perform even better.”