Israil Gurung, member of Football Players Association of India, has been carrying out a commendable job in his native village of Jaigaon, of encouraging young girls between the ages of 12-16 years to pursue football along with their academics.
Israil Gurung has won the I-league with Churchill Bros, had loan stints in Portuguese second division for Vitoria De Guimaraes B when he was with FC Pune City playing in the ISL, has represented Mohammedan SC and Mohun Bagan as well . He is currently completing his AFC B license course.
The village of Jaigon is a remote one with very little infrastructure; most families hail from lower economic strata. Amidst widespread apprehension among parents about allowing girls into the game, Israil Gurung has been working against several odds to train these girls.
He was quoted saying, “The biggest challenge here is to convince the parents that the game can be pursued along with studies and they will have bright futures only if they balance both. Most of the children here are school drop-outs (since their parents cannot afford their education) and end up working as unskilled labourers. I try my level best to put them back to school so that they can come for regular practice, but it is always difficult because of the limited resources we have. I am thankful to a few people who have been helping me for the past years now and the FPAI for all their support. The road ahead is difficult but we will keep trying.”
Gurung has been training around 55 children in total, and has already sent four girls for trials with IWL clubs with the FPAI as their intermediary. One can hope that his efforts are able to take these girls to heights of success and give Indian football a new dimension.