15-year-old Kusum playing with the ball at the juncture of the national team

Kathmandu- Khudunabari is a little above Sanischare in Jhapa. And, Kusum’s house is near Khudunabari Bazaar. Father Homnath Khatiwada drives a tractor. The same income runs the house. Mother Chitramaya is a housewife. Kusum, the fourth child of the Khatiwada couple, has two sisters, a brother, and a sister.

Five minutes from home is the forest of Mastir Sal. There is a playground in the forest. The same ground is the training ground of Kusum. “It simply came to our notice then. We have built the field by playing. Similarly, it can be called Seven A-Side, ‘says 15-year-old Kusum,’ Usually there are 2-3 people who go to play. Sometimes we play up to 10 people together. ‘

The practice of learning from the knower, teaching the unknown is the general culture of the field. The same rule applies to the field of Kusum. The same ground plays an important role in her football development.

Kusum used to go to the playground from a young age. The brothers played football. Seeing them play, she too began to enjoy football.

Nowadays, she sometimes goes to the playground to make tiktoks. She has uploaded many of her videos with football skills on tiktok. Those videos have received thousands of likes.

When the boot is torn while playing. “It’s easy saying I want a book or a copy, but it’s not as easy to say I want boots,” she said. ” My parents are happy that I played football,” she said.

The boot is torn while playing, so you can’t just bring another one. She feels unhappy at such a time.

The Janata Mavi ground at Khudunabari Chowk is another of her favorite places. There are also her girlfriends. These are the two fields she practices while sitting at home.

“Kusum showed good skills while preparing for the tournament, sometimes by playing at the ward level,” said Khawas. “She picked up quickly.”

Janata Mavi Sports Instructor Yam Khawas used to train the players on the same ground. “Kusum’s game was quick and fast from the beginning,” said coach Khawas, recalling the old days. “Her power attack is good.”

The past Cola-Cola Cup, which produces grassroots-level players, has now been transformed into the Quicks Cup. “Kusum showed good skills while preparing for the tournament, sometimes by playing at the ward level,” said Khawas. “She picked up quickly.”

She likes to keep practicing. “Even when I am sick, I feel like returning to the field,” says Kusum. She hopes to be in the national team of her age group. “Until today, I was not in the age group. So it is natural to hope, ‘she says.

But the age group game was not certain. The wait for the national team was even longer. One day while she was active in the field, news came that surprised her. That was the good news – her name was on a list of 45 players called up by national women’s soccer head coach Gary Phillips.

At first, she could not believe it. ‘Who is the next Kusum Khatiwada?’ She asked in a circle of friends. She did not expect to be on the senior team right now. She says she never thought she would be in the senior team at the same time without being in the national team of her age group.

“There were so many players playing in the league. I didn’t expect to be in. All were seniors and good players. We thought we would never get a chance, ‘says Kusum. She was relieved to find out that Kusum Khatiwada on the list was her.

Motivation to play football

Where did she get the inspiration to play football? This question makes Kusum think sometimes. But she uses her experience as an inspiration.

Brothers and sisters used to gather in Khudunabari. After the gathering, the ball would be joho. “It simply came to our notice then. My brother also used to play goals. I started playing when I saw my brothers playing, ‘says Kusum.

Kusum used to be happy with the cracked ball. Kusum made the ball her friend even though it was for fun. There was an atmosphere of teaching football in the village while playing. ‘Yam Khawas is my first football guru. He called me and taught me, ‘she says,’ I came to the national team learning from him.’

She has been inspired to bring football along with her studies since she was 12/13 years old. She says, “Family also support me at home and I got to play.”

Her dream is to be like Nepali football star Saru Limbu. “My football idol is Limbu. Among the male player, Abhishek Rijal is my idol ‘she says. Saru Limbu was the best player in the last women’s league while Machhindra striker Abhishek has been playing in India and Sri Lanka.

Limbu is the midfielder while Rijal is the forward. Like Abhishek, she also likes to be in the forward. “My position is forward, I enjoy that position. Sometimes it’s fun to play winger. I think I can do better there, ‘says Kusum.

Experience of closed training

She is currently training with the national team players at the ANFA Complex in Satdobato. At first, she thought that she would be overshadowed by a senior player in the national team. “Everyone is a senior player. I was wondering if I would be in the shadows, ‘said Kusum.

She was afraid that other players would turn against us, that they would despise the junior. “But nothing like that happened. The seniors helped us a lot, ”she said. The support of the seniors has given her more encouragement.

“I have learned a lot from senior players. I have the opportunity to correct mistakes. I got more help than I thought, ‘she says.

Kusum carrying potential

The coach says that Kusum’s performance is good and the game is improving. Bhagwati Thapa, assistant coach of the national women’s team, said that her performance was positive and very fast. She says, ‘We have called her because we need young players in the team. If she continues to play, Kusum can be fielded with Savitra Bhandari and Anita KC in a short time.’

According to Thapa, Kusum can do a lot. ‘There is also age. There is also time to work hard, ‘says Thapa,’ Kusum and Amisa Karki are potential young players now. They have the same expectations as senior players.’

“I never thought I’d get here right now,” says Kusum. “It’s a great opportunity for me. The dream of reaching the national team has come true.’

Although Kusum was recommended to the APF club of the Armed Police Force, she has not joined the club due to her age. She seems to have achieved great things at an early age. She has also demanded some time to sign a contract with APF.

“I never thought I’d get here right now,” says Kusum. “It’s a great opportunity for me. The dream of reaching the national team has come true.’

She plans to play football for the rest of her life. How to move forward now? She says, ‘I have thought of bringing football forward in life. I still work hard. I still struggle. I will make a better game in the coming days. Which will take me to the playing set of the national team. And, let’s score from there.’

That competition to be established at the national level

Biratnagar became very popular in the National Women’s Football League held in Kathmandu in January 2077 BS. The players of Biratnagar, who look like age group, are the best player and it is a strong team. Kusum was a member of the same team.

Along with Biratnagar, Kusum was known among Nepali football supporters in the game. The competition also established her at the national level. Kusum, who arrived in Kathmandu to play in the national tournament after being selected by district and state, had earlier played ‘Quix Cup’ in Kathmandu.

Her assessment of her game is also interesting. “I don’t think I played very well in the league, but I didn’t play worse,” she recalls. She says that the encouragement of the coach has played a big role in this.

Kusum says, ‘Paras Guru helped a lot in the league. Encouraged to play without panic while competing with clubs like APF. Encouraged to focus on sports, not age. You are inspiring that even if you make a mistake, there is an opportunity to improve.’

Biratnagar Metropolitan City coach Paras Chaudhary had made the relatively weak team Biratnagar strategically strong. Kusum was in the role of striker in Chaudhary’s team.

Kusum was the youngest player in the league. However, her speed, dribbling, and tricks attracted a lot of attention. She also excelled in the first round in Dhankuta and in Chapur.

After watching the game, coach Chaudhary called her to the team of Biratnagar. Kusum was also included in the team when coach Chaudhary played seven players from Biratnagar.

Due to the deadline, Biratnagar had only 12 days to practice for the league. Based on the practice done in the same 12 days, the team returned home after playing a game in Kathmandu.