Who is Manisha Kalyan? The first Indian to play in the UEFA Champions League


On August 18, when Manisha Kalyan came off the bench to play for Apollon Ladies FC as a replacement for Marilena Georgious, she made history by becoming the first Indian to play in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. However, this is not the only first the Indian women’s football team striker has achieved so far.

The Apollon Ladies are the Cyprus Women’s Club Champions, based in Limassol, the island nation’s capital. They take part in the qualifying round of the UEFA Women’s Champions League. They beat Latvia’s Riga SFK in their first game and would now face Zurich FC. A win could take them to round 2 of qualification and from there to the main draw. But why should India be excited about what’s happening in the Women’s UEFA Champions League anyway?

At a time when the Indian Football Federation (AIFF) is banned by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), it was Manisha and his historic achievement that brought Indian football into the limelight for all the right reasons. .

How did Manisha start playing football in rural Hoshiarpur?

Football has always been the game of the poor in India, especially in northern India where cricket, hockey and individual sports like boxing and wrestling dominate the most popular sport in the world. It is the northeast of India, which has been the breeding ground for budding footballers, whether male or female. However, a girl from mugowal village in the Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, dreamed differently. Not only was she beating boys her age playing football, she was literally even beating them.

Luckily, Brahmjit, a PT teacher in government college, took her to Mahilpur Football Academy and from there Manisha’s journey started.

From Mugowol to Manaus: History Maker Manisha

Rising through the ranks, Manisha worked his way through various U17 camps to eventually join Madurai-based Sethu FC who competed and became the 2018-19 Indian Women’s League champions. Thanks to coming out in the three matches she played, Manisha was drafted into the India U-17 squad that played the BRICS Cup in South Africa in July 2018.

Manisha was noticed by Gokulam Kerala after her goal against China in the BRICS Cup and the club signed her up for the 2019-20 Indian Women’s League season. During this season, Kalyan, who mostly came off the bench in the later stages of matches, scored three goals. She was also retained by Gokulam for the next two seasons. The 2020 season has been canceled due to Covid-19.

However, it was in November 2021 that Manisha Kalyan etched her name forever in the history books. In a friendly match against Brazil in Manauswhere India were beaten 1-6, the then 20-year-old Kalyan became the first Indian (male or female) to score a goal against a Brazilian senior team.

2021-22 Player of the Year

For her brilliant goal against Brazil, four goals in four games for India and a total of 14 goals in 11 appearances for Gokulam Kerala in the Indian Women’s League, Manisha was chosen as Women’s Player of the Year by the AIFF for the 2021-22 season.

The sky is the limit for Manisha Kalyan

At the age of 21, Manisha was named Women’s Player of the Year, scored India’s first ever senior goal against Brazil and became the first Indian woman to score in the Asian Women’s Championship. She scored for Gokulam in a match against Bunyodkor, champions of Uzbekistan’s top women’s football league. The next big jewel added to his crown is an appearance in Europe’s top-flight competition. And yet, this is only the beginning of what could be a legendary career.

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