In recent times, Haryana has given some of the best women athletes to India. The likes of Phogat sisters and Sakshi Malik have placed the State on the sports map.

And now we have eight spirited girls from Haryana making a big splash in the game of football.

Nisha, Varsha, Ritu, Kavita, Poonam, Kiran, Manisha and Anju's journey has been full of struggles. But they did not give up. They were determined and have succeeded in realising their dreams.

Hindustan Times reported how these young girls trained at a cemetery in Sadalpur, a village 40 km away from Hisar.

The panchayat has allotted them a ground to practice but the girls must cycle almost 52 km daily for training sessions.

Despite such hardships, the girls made it to the Indian squad that will participate in an Under-15 tournament organised by South Asian Football Federation (SAFF). The tournament begins on 9 August in Bhutan.

The girls are also facing financial difficulties.

Anju's father is a driver, Kavita's mother works at a farm while her father died when she was just two. Manisha's dad is a labourer and her family survives on whatever he brings home on a daily basis.

“Because of financial limitations, and since both my brothers were already playing football, my father was reluctant that I too play,” Hindustan Times quoted Anju as saying.

“But it was at the insistence of Vinod (coach) sir that my father was convinced. Sir was blunt and told my father that instead of investing in my brothers, he should focus on me as I have natural talent for football. Thankfully, my father heeded the coach’s advice. After some time, my brothers left the sport but I stuck to it,” Anju added.

The girls are trained by Vinod Loyal, a former university-level footballer.

He has started a centre at the village called the Vinod Football Academy, almost 13km from Sadalpur. All eight girls cycle twice daily to train with him.

“Yes, there are regular physical training sessions but cycling to and from Sadalpur in the morning and evening has made them stronger,” said Vinod.

But the girls did not play for Haryana. They made it to the Indian squad representing neighbouring Himachal Pradesh. This year they finished third in the sub-junior national championship.

Vinod is also proud of the fact that a sport that was dominated by boys in the State now has girls actively involved.