I look upto Rahim Nabi: Tuli Goon
Starting her career as a striker in 2005 when she made her international debut, Tuli Goon - one of the experienced hats in the Indian Women's Team - is now an accomplished right back.
She is dubbed as the female version of Syed Rahim Nabi because of her versatile nature.
A Cristiano Ronaldo fan, Goon was an integral part of the triumphant SAFF Championship side last year.
Goon spoke at length about her career, her colleagues, the new coach and much more.
You are quite fond of the tag 'Syed Rahim Nabi' of the Indian Women's team isn't it?
We have a lot in common. Both me and Nabi started our international careers in 2005. We can play anywhere. I started my career as a striker. I was very fast to start with. With the ball, I could just run and run! So with time the coaches wanted me to take the role of a full back and I adjusted well. I can still play in any position.
Back home, I am dubbed me as the female version of Rahim Nabi (smiles). I definitely feel proud. He is one of the best in the business and won the AIFF Player of the Year this time too. He is an inspirational figure both and on and off the pitch. I look upto him.
How was it winning the SAFF Championship last year?
We had won it the last time, in 2011 as well. Back to back trophies are incredible and I am proud of my team and myself. We won by big margins as well. Every match was convincing.
How big is the Dutch challenge?
It's big. We are so looking forward to it. We are not bogged down by their status. We believe we can match them and this belief will drive the team forward. We do not practice together very often. But this seven day camp has helped us a great deal. You need to know your teammates in and out. It is only then the camaraderie reflects on the field.
I sincerely thank the AIFF for the initiative. Come what way, we will take a lot from these two matches. This is a huge step towards the development of women's football in India.
How do you rate Anadi Barua as a Coach?
He encourages us a lot. He is so supportive. Tactically, he is working on a lot of things. We have also seen the video footage of the Dutch side. We are working on our strengths and weaknesses. Under his guidance, we are learning a lot. He is a perfectionist. But I feel, the morale is the most important thing and our Coach stays well aware of that. He believes we can win and so do we.
You have four U-19 players in your side. As a senior pro, what do you advice them to do before such a big match?
They are extremely talented. That's why they are in the reckoning. I am glad that there is more competition from the juniors as well to earn a place in the starting XI. It means that the future of Indian women's football is in the right direction too. I advice them to stick to the basics and follow religiously to what the coach says.
Who do you idolise World Women's football?
I watch men's football more than women's to be honest! (laughs). I feel a connect and it drives me to better myself. I look upto Cristiano Ronaldo a lot. I have been following him since his days in Manchester United. I stay awake for all the Real Madrid games just to watch his trickery. I am love with that.