The goal is set

Delhi girl Dalima Chhibber can be an icon for women’s football in the country

August 30, 2015 11:38 pm | Updated March 29, 2016 06:07 pm IST

Dalima Chhibber

Dalima Chhibber

Dalima Chhibber is making waves in a man’s game, shooting the ball with dexterity and power, competing with boys to sharpen her skills, looking to carve a career in football. It was always a dream and she is determined to live it. “Father (Om Prakash Chhibber) has been my inspiration,” smiled the 17-year-old footballer. Father worked tirelessly to train the daughter to grab her place by playing with seniors. “It helped me improve considerably,” she said. Om Prakash was an athlete and encouraged his daughter to look at a career in sport.

Dalima was studying in fourth standard at Tagore International School, Kalkaji, and kicked the ball around in the company of boys much older. She was 11 when she participated in the under-19 National Games. Two years later she found a place in the Indian side for the AFC Festival in Sri Lanka. Dalima knocked in nine goals against Iran, Palestine, Jordan and Sri Lanka.

Inspired by her good showing, it was now clear that Dalima had a future in football. She progressed to play in India (under-16) AFC tournament and India (under-18) at the World School Football. Last year, she led the team at an Under-19 tournament in Jordan.

She was at her best at the CBSE football championship. Dalima scored all the 25 goals that Delhi scored in the tournament and helped her school claim the championship. “I did what comes best to me,” she said.

Competing with boys did not scare Dalima or hamper her progress. “I practised with seniors because it helped me improve my speed, agility and endurance.” The athletic Dalima was not averse to give a strong shoulder charge to the opponent. “Part of the game,” she added when talking of the rough side of her football grooming.

Her aim is to be a top footballer. “I would like to play overseas. I am looking to give trials at some foreign clubs,” she opined. “A course in sports psychology is what I have on mind,” said the 1st year student of New Delhi’s Jesus and Mary College. A central midfielder, she is a huge fan of Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho. “Their speed and agility is amazing.”

Shakti Chauhan, assistant coach of Delhi Dynamos Football Club, is her mentor. “She has exceptional talent. She has amazing strength and can take powerful shots at the goal from 30-40 yards. She learns so well and I am sure someday she will become a superb coach because of her analytical mind,” praised Chauhan.

Women’s football is not rated high in India but Dalima promises to change that perception.

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