GUWAHATI, Nov 21: Not many have the fortune to win three trophies in a year in football. And that too in two different countries. However, Dangmei Grace has done that.
First, the feisty forward has won the Indian Women's League (IWL), the top-tier football league in India, representing Gokulam Kerela in May 2022. And in November she won two trophies for PFC Sevinch Karshi in Uzbekistan.
"Indeed, it's a great feeling to keep winning. I'm lucky to win three major trophies this year. I'm thankful to my family, my clubs, the support staff and the teammates," Dangmei, a native of Churachandpur in Manipur, told The Assam Tribune from Uzbekistan.
Dangmei signed for the Uzbek club Sevinch Karshi in July this year following her successful stint at Gokulam Kerala. The 26-year-old striker continued her excellent run and helped her side to clinch two trophies – Uzbekistan League and Uzbekistan Cup.
She played 14 matches for her new club Sevinch Karshi and scored 4 goals against Uzbek clubs.
It was not an easy ride for her to land in a different country and play against some of the best in the country.
"It was a different experience and obviously not easy initially. It started with the language… most of the people in the club speak either Russian or Uzbek and not English which makes my life tougher. Even during the training sessions, it was difficult to communicate. But I learnt the basic words…like thank you, sorry, stop, pass it to me etc. These words have been helpful," she said.
"Apart from that, the playing style of the girls is also different. They play a very rough game…very physical, unlike Indian girls. These are things I had to adopt."
But Dangmei overcame all the hurdles to taste victory. "Yes, the taste of success made me forget all the pain and difficulties. I'm more confident now and looking forward," she reckoned.
Though she is still in Uzbekistan now, Dangmei is willing to play in the National Football Championship representing her state Manipur.
"It will be great to go back home, meet my family and represent my home state in the national championship. I'm looking forward to that," she signed off.
Dangmei became one of the few women players after Oinam Bembem Devi, Bala Devi, Dalima Chhibber and Aditi Chauhan to sign a professional contract with an overseas outfit.
Dangmei started her international career in 2013 and won the South Asian Games (2016, 2019) and SAFF Women's Championships in 2016 and 2019. On the domestic front, she joined KRYPHSA FC and moved to Sethu FC in 2018-19 before switching to Gokulam Kerala FC in the Indian Women's League. In the process, she has two IWL triumphs under her belt, and a bronze in the AFC Women's Club Championship last year.
She was chosen for the AIFF Emerging Player of the Year in 2019.