When Poulami Adhikari from Shibrampur, India, was seven years old, she saw neighborhood boys playing football on the playground. She joined them, and her playmates initially believed that she was also a boy because she was wearing shorts.
But when their guardians discovered she was a female, they reported her to the playground authorities. Poulami was extremely upset.
To encourage Poulami’s football desire, her aunt who raised her set up classes. After local football coach Anita Sarkar noticed her, she played for a girls’ team in Kolkata’s football league and was selected for India’s Under-16 squad aged 12. She gained friends and competed abroad for her nation. Her career peaked then.
However, in 2018, Poulami suffered a serious leg injury that necessitated several surgeries and bed rest. She claims she has recovered sufficiently to resume elite-level play, but her family needed income. She had to contribute to maintaining the household because her older sister had married and moved out.
She quit her football dream and started taking different jobs. During the pandemic, more people turned to food delivery services so she decided to become a delivery agent, earning around 300 rupees ($3.60) a day.
The 24-year-old doesn’t have enough time to practice right now with her job, but she still hopes to be able to play professionally again one day.
According to Shanti Mullick, a former striker for the India women’s national football team, young women do not have the opportunity to make careers in sports in India. If her circumstances had been different, Poulami could have been a professional.