After 4 years of a stoic battle with most cancers, Fouzia Mampetta, the pioneer of ladies’s football in Kerala, breathed her final at her home in Vellimadukunnu, a sleepy suburb of Kozhikode. She was 49, and leaves behind a multi-layered legacy as a participant, pathbreaker and coach.
Fouzia was a stereotype-buster in each sense of the phrase. She started enjoying football at a time when ladies from her neighborhood have been typically discouraged to check past the tenth grade, not to mention select a profession in sports activities, extra so one as bodily demanding as football. Though northern Malabar has at all times been keen about football, it was not tolerant sufficient to encourage girls to embrace the sport.
But Fouzia, rising up in Malappuram’s Tirur, couldn’t resist the attract of the Beautiful Game. Wearing tattered boots forsaken by her brothers, she would dangle round within the precincts of native grounds, hoping for somebody to ask her for a kick or two. “But no one was willing to teach football to a girl. They were not scared of me, but did not want me. But my father, who was in the Gulf, always encouraged me. During a vacation, he convinced my brothers and cousins to teach me football and let me to the ground,” she as soon as recounted her story to a native tv channel and web site, Dool News.
But on one situation — that she wouldn’t be an outfield participant, however a goalkeeper, and not allowed to step outdoors the confines of the six-yard field. She also needs to wrap her head in a hijab and put on tracksuits that lined the whole physique. It hardly mattered to Fouzia. “I was on the field at last. I knew from thereon, no one could stop me from playing the game,” she stated.
Just the start
No one may. Despite strict laws and prohibitions, she would evade the glare of her conservative household and attend trials in Kozhikode. At 16, she was picked within the junior state group that participated within the All-India Junior Football Championship in Kolkata. Her shot-stopping expertise and readiness to carry out the stopper’s duties, striding out of her six-yard confinement to thwart rival forays, gained admiration and consideration. Fouzia was adjudged the very best goalkeeper, as she took Kerala to a runners-up end. And for the subsequent 9 years, she was a common in Kerala girls’s football groups, seamlessly graduating from the junior to senior grades.
But uncommon as football fixtures have been, Fouzia had ample time to select new passions. She learnt judo, handball, weightlifting and powerlifting too, and went on to win medals for the state. The story goes that she even attended hockey trials. None of those pursuits, although, would distract her from the love of her life, football.
In 1996, although, she needed to briefly disconnect herself from the sport after marriage, which shortly resulted in a divorce. She discovered solace in football once more and ventured into her storied teaching profession. “There was neither encouragement nor infrastructure for women’s football. I wanted to change that,” Fouzia stated.
The first step was to show football in a girls’s faculty. She discovered a job on the Nadakkavu Girls High School in Kozhikode, and in simply two years made them district champions. Gradually, she made Kozhikode a powerhouse in girls’s football. So a lot in order that by 2003, 4 of her wards have been within the Kerala group. Soon, she was appointed the assistant coach of the state girls’s group, which completed third within the 2005 Senior National Championship and runners-up the subsequent yr. The identical yr, two of her college students, VM Ashley and T Nikhila, obtained picked for the nationwide group. Several extra have been to observe.
But Fouzia’s ambitions have been removed from happy. She realised that tangible progress may solely happen if the game is inspired on the faculty degree. She returned to the Nadakkavu School and started a prolonged quest to incorporate girls’s football into the National School Games fold. Repeatedly snubbed by numerous regimes, she lastly succeeded in 2013. “The most important goal I have scored in my career,” she would say with attribute humour.
Fighting until the top
It’s with comparable imagery that she conveyed her medical situation to her college students. “Cancer has started scoring goals into my goalpost, but I will take the game to the penalty shootout, till the final whistle is blown,” she instructed her beloved wards on the faculty a few months in the past.
For most of them, she was greater than a coach or mentor, a mom and an inspiration too. “She taught us to be brave, humble and fight till the very end. The values she had taught us will remain in us forever,” Theertha, one in all her college students, instructed Dool News.
In her lifetime, Fouzia by no means chased fame and limelight, a cause she remained largely nameless even in Kerala. But she leaves behind a glittering legacy. As the pathbreaker of ladies’s football in northern Malabar.