“The Bhagwad Gita says there are no relations in times of war,” says Chitra Gangadharan, goalkeeping coach of the Indian women’s football team, which will be competing in the Incheon Asian Games in a few weeks’ time.
Chitra is referring to her daughter, Amoolya Kamal, who is part of the 22-member India squad. In a twist of fate, both mother and daughter have got a chance to be part of the team at the same time. Chitra though does not want to stress too much on the fact and treats her daughter like every other player in the team.
“It’s a professional setup. The stakes are high. Here, the only way to judge a player is through her performance,” says Chitra, who was captain of the India team which won silver in the Asian Cup in 1980.
“One cannot allow emotions to overpower you in such situations. When you play for the country, only your performance on the field counts,” adds Chitra.
Amoolya, 30, is no stranger to success either, having won gold at the 2010 South Asian Federation (SAF) Games in Dhaka, and understands the dynamics of a team sport.
“She (Chitra) will never congratulate me or praise me in front of anyone. Initially, she used to come and hug me in the room, but now it’s all business,” says Amoolya, who plays as a midfielder.
While it might be all business on the field, the mother dotes on her daughter off the playing surface. “During the SAF Games, she was not part of the coaching staff but made it a point to travel to Bangladesh to see me play,” says Amoolya. “She has been an inspiration. Her experience is immense and it has helped me a lot in my game,” she adds.
“I am a goalkeeping coach and she’s a medio. So, I stay away from her game as much as possible. She is in safe hands,” says Chitra.
On Sunday, the duo will fly out with the rest of the squad to China for an acclimatisation tour. The team will then move to Incheon, where they face South Korea and Thailand in the group stage.