The India women's national team have been handed an unprecedented boost in their bid to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Indian eves qualified for the second round of the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Olympic qualifiers after finishing second in their four-team group in the first round which was held in November 2018.
The second round is scheduled for 1–9 April 2019 and the Indian team is already hard at work as they prepare for a momentuous tournament. It is the first time that the women's team has qualified for the second round of the Olympic qualifiers.
The Central Government awarded the All India Football Federation (AIFF) a handy amount of money early in December 2018 to be put to use towards the women's team's preparations. The Indian FA has already charted out a 100-day programme for the women's team which will include extensive training sessions and quality practice matches and will include friendlies against quality opponents.
"Since we qualified for the second round of Olympic qualifiers, our women’s team have begun a camp in Cuttack. The idea is to keep the team together until April. We will play 15-to-20 international games. We have also reached out to various federations in order to finalise our games," said Kushal Das, General Secretary of the AIFF.
"Obviously we have a MoU with the Odisha Government and they are supporting us. Also after our team qualified, we sent a revised plan in our ACTC (Annual Calendar for Training and Competitions) to Sports India which was approved."
The team have already set up camp in Cuttack, Odisha, under the watchful eyes of head coach Maymol Rocky who has called up 35 players including several promising junior team stars.
Never before have any Indian women's team had such great emphasis placed upon them or any significant resources diverted towards their improvement.
Furthermore, the federation are looking to ensure the eves play at least 15-20 international matches in the buildup to the second round of qualifiers where they will most certainly come up against some strong teams.
There are also plans to organise a four-nation women's tournament in Cuttack as well in the coming months.
This should come as big news for the women's national team which rarely plays international matches apart from the occasional qualifying games for AFC and FIFA tournaments.