GUMLA: Gorratoli will have scored a goal when its daughter Astam Oraon takes the field on Tuesday, whatever the outcome.
The Adivasi teen from the nondescript tribal village in the Maoist-infested Gumla district of Jharkhand will be Team India‘s captain in the FIFA U-17 women’s World Cup tournament that kicks off in Bhubaneswar from Tuesday.
Gorratoli shot to limelight a few months ago after Astam was named part of the senior Indian team. The spotlight became brighter last week when she was anointed U-17 skipper.
We have a team that is hard to score against, says Dennerby ahead of World Cup opener against USA 🇺🇸 Read 👉🏼… https://t.co/ufja5NlZZ1
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) 1665410104000
If Astam has gone places, her success seems to have opened Gorratoli’s long-shut doors to development: the Gumla district administration has announced a football stadium worth Rs 2 crore in her name and a black-topped road to her village.
“This is to motivate other girls and their families that none should stop dreaming big. A stadium after her name will set the tone for other girls to come out, play and make it big,” said Gumla deputy commissioner Sushant Gaurav.
Gaurav was speaking a few months ago when Astam became part of the senior team and he visited her village to felicitate her father Heeralal Oraon and mother Tara Devi.
🗣️ Head Coach Thomas Dennerby and player Astam Oraon addressed the media 🎙️ ahead of #U17WWC 🏆 at Bhubaneswar today… https://t.co/wV0mKuwXLM
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) 1665420242000
Hailing from a poor farmer’s family, Astam’s road to fame wasn’t easy. She has four sisters and a brother and had to face hunger and other problems, recalled her family members.
The third child in the family, Astam dreamt of being a football player since childhood and never let obstacles come in her way. In 2016, she was selected for training at a state-run residential football centre in Hazaribagh. “A girl from a rural hamlet pursuing the game without many facilities and becoming the captain speaks volumes about Astam’s struggle,” said Soni Kumari, coach at the Hazaribagh centre.
Soni maintained that Astam improved while playing the South Asian Football Federation games in Hong Kong, and later in Bangladesh and Jamshedpur in the past few years. “Recently, she also went to Spain ahead of the upcoming World Cup,” Soni said.
Asked about her plans for Tuesday’s World Cup clash, Astam said: “I only want to look ahead and my target is to play well and as a team to clinch the World Cup.”