Chandni Chowk to White Hart Lane | The Story of Tanvie Hans
Tanvie Hans, the 24-year-old Delhi girl, plays football for Tottenham Hotspurs Ladies FC in London. She was home in Delhi a few weeks ago and Indranath Mukherjee from GOALden Times had an opportunity to talk to her. Here is an excerpt of the conversation.
When I approached Tanvie Hans for a quick interview for GOALden Times, she readily agreed and was extremely candid throughout the conversation. She had to postpone her trip to London due to health issues, but there was no dearth of passion and energy once she started talking about football.
Tanvie’s love for the game is evident from the choices that she has made in her life. She loved to play the game since the time she was in school and it’s no wonder that she became the captain of her school team. It wasn’t probably just a coincidence that she went to Vasant Valley School—the first school in Delhi to have a girls’ football team. While in school, she also started going to Delhi’s Eves Soccer Club to get specialized training under a football coach whom she mentions as Chibbar sir who has been instrumental in her development as a player. Her choice of college was also dictated by the game—as she chose to go to Jesus and Mary College, with the knowledge that it had the best women’s football team in Delhi University.No point for guessing who bagged the captain’s armband in Tanvie’s final year in college. Her life as a student in Delhi primarily revolved around studies and football—not necessarily in that order. After finishing college in 2011, she decided to go to the University of Exeter in South West England for her masters. Tanvie got the biggest shock of her life when she did not get selected in the first (football) team of the university. However, she was determined to change her plight, and continued to play the game with all her heart. Her performance for the second team got her promoted to the first team within just two weeks. It was during this time (September 2011 to August 2012) that she finally decided that she would spend at least some time playing football in the UK. The sheer superiority of the UK’s sporting infrastructure motivated her to play with renewed enthusiasm.Eventually, Tanvie came back to India after completing her masters and started undergoing rigorous training in Delhi. She fondly acknowledges the contribution of her trainer: “I went back to Chibbar sir and he agreed to train me again. He made me train very hard, but that was what made me ready for the open trial in England.” Apart from her football training, there was a heavy schedule of physical training as well. She had to run uphill for 45 minutes every day. The coach made her climb trees to develop her muscles. All this hard work paid off when she made it to two of the three club’s open trials that she had applied for in England. In July 2013, Tanvie packed her bag to play football for Tottenham Hotspurs Ladies FC.
Life in England as a woman footballer is not easy. Women’s football is still not played at a professional level. Tanvie works as a marketing executive to support her life there so that she can play football. The club has evening practices for the women footballers on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and on Friday the club manager informs the group about the team composition for that weekend’s match via Whatsapp. Tanvie stops here and asks me: “Should I talk about the different levels of ladies’ football there?” I nod enthusiastically. She explains that there are three teams for all the clubs. The first team plays at the top level; the second team is almost a mirror of the first team; and the third team plays in the second division. According to usual tradition, the coach informs the players of the composition of all three teams on Friday. Tanvie always worked hard to make it to the first or the second team. However, after the FIFA Men’s World Cup in 2014, there has been a huge influx of women footballers, leading to a restructuring of the women’s’ teams. Tanvie, as a result, is now part of the third team, but she doesn’t complain.“With so many girls joining, the standard of the game has gone up a few notches up this season and I am happy to be a regular in the third team,” she says. She continues to work hard, while attending regular practice sessions at the club on Tuesdays and Thursdays.She has her personal training on Mondays and Fridays. Much like Chibbar sir in Delhi, she has a coach who trains her in the colony at Warwick Avenue, very close to where she stays. Tanvie is an attacking footballer and can play in multiple positions, including both the wings or at the central in the midfield, or even as a striker. However, she is beginning to enjoy playing more in left wing—cutting inside and shoot with her right foot. “Shooting is my strength,” declares Tanvie with a smile.
Tanvie did attend the national selection camp for the Indian women’s team,but having a British passport prevented her from representing the Indian team. Although both her parents are Indian, her mother holds a British passport, and it was their decision to make Tanvie a British citizen.“It’s a choice that my parents made when I was a child, and although I would have loved to play for the Indian team, I do enjoy a lot of benefits of holding a British passport as well. So, I don’t complain.” She indeed doesn’t complain as long as she gets to play football. For now, her goals are simple. She is focused on making it to the second team from the third, and thereon to the first team from the second. Her parents have returned back home in India and they want her to come back and lead a more secured life, but all Tanvie wants to do is to play football. She hopes that ISL for women starts in India so that she can come back home to play football with a few years of experience in England under her belt.
I couldn’t help asking a question at the end. “How is the competition with Arsenal?” She smiles and says, “Their first team is very good, but when we play them there is something special about those games.”
You can follow Tanvie by liking her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/tanviehans1
*These photos are taken from her Facebook page.