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Meet Manisha Kalyan — the first Indian to play in UEFA Women’s Champions League

Meet Manisha Kalyan — the first Indian to play in UEFA Women’s Champions League

Meet Manisha Kalyan — the first Indian to play in UEFA Women’s Champions League
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By Prakhar Sachdeo  Aug 19, 2022 5:52:03 PM IST (Published)

Kalyan finds herself in an elite group. Only a handful of Indian woman footballers have gone on to play for an overseas outfit. Oinam Bembem Devi, Bala Devi, Dalima Chhibber, Aditi Chauhan and Kalyan are the few Indian women footballers who have signed a contract with an overseas club but of the five Kalyan has become the first to play in UEFA Women’s Champions League.

While Indian football continues to struggle with administrative challenges, Indian footballers continue to reach newer horizons. The latest Indian footballer to shine is Manisha Kalyan.

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Kalyan has managed to achieve what no other Indian football player has — play in UEFA Women’s Champions League. The 20-year-old striker made her debut for Apollon Ladies FC on Thursday against SFK Rīga in the European Club competition in Engomi, Cyprus.
Kalyan could have taken some more time to create history as she was not in the starting XI of the Apollon Ladies but in the 60th minute, Cyprus’ Marilena Georgiou walked off the field and was substituted by Kalyan. The match proved even more memorable for the young Indian footballer as Apollon Ladies beat SFK Rīga 3-0 to begin their campaign in style.
An elite few
Kalyan finds herself in an elite group. Only a handful of Indian woman footballers have gone on to play for an overseas outfit. Oinam Bembem Devi, Bala Devi, Dalima Chhibber, Aditi Chauhan and Kalyan are the few Indian women footballers who have signed a contract with an overseas club but of the five Kalyan has become the first to play in UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Early brilliance
Kalyan was born in Mugowal village of Punjab and she started playing the sport at the age of 13.
2018 proved to be the breakthrough year for the striker as she was selected for the women's U17 squad to play in the 2018 BRICS U17 Football Cup and was also signed by Gokulam Kerala to play in the inaugural Indian Women's League.
Kalyan who claims to be a Lionel Messi fan left a mark in both tournaments. While playing for the U17 women's team she scored a goal against China. She was impressive for Gokulam Kerala as she netted three goals in the tournament and was adjudged as the emerging player of the tournament.
 
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Kalyan continued her steady progress and moved to the U19 national team. In the 2019 AFC U19 Women's Championship Qualifiers she put up a stunning show as India beat Thailand. In the same tournament, she thumped a hat-trick against Pakistan.
Kalyan has a knack for seizing the moment as, on her senior debut on October 2, 2021, against the UAE, she netted a goal in India's 4-1 victory.
Move to Europe
A month and a half later, Kalyan added yet another first to her record as she became first woman player from India to score in a top-flight Asian competition. The moment arrived when she scored in the 2021 AFC Women's Club Championship match against FC Bunyodkor Women's Team of Uzbekistan on November 14.
Kalyan's football talent eventually led her to Europe when on July 3 she signed a contract with Limassol-based Cypriot First Division club Apollon Ladies. A little over a month later she made her debut for the club.
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