The game appeared locked in a stalemate until the hour mark but the Goa University’s bench and support staff had little reason to be anxious as they had a trump card few other teams, in the Khelo India University Games in Bhubaneswar, had – Karishma Shirvoikar.
Goa broke the goal less deadlock through a move initiated by Karishma and she eventually scored herself and Goa University finished mauling the hosts 5-0.
Karishma started playing at Our Lady of the Rosary Higher Secondary School when she was in Class V. “All the boys around me used to play football, and as a kid I was just naturally curious to play sport,” she revealed, “so I played with them, wherever possible,” she told a news agency after the match.
Riding on dominant talent, she was fast-tracked through the school teams, then the state teams before dominating at the age group levels. In 2019, she played for Panjim Footballers in the Indian Women’s League and despite the team winning a single game in the season, Karishma’s performance in front of the goal caught attention.
“It was a massive jump for me, playing with so many senior players, who have so much experience at the national level,” she confessed, explaining her emotions after being picked up during this season’s IWL draft by Gokulam Kerala, who went on to become champions.
In the three games she played, Karishma scored four goals, and bagged a hat-trick against Kenkre FC.
“Playing with Sabitra was a huge learning experience,” she said. “Her positioning, her movement, her physicality, it was great for me to watch and learn. Now, here with my Goa team I am passing on that knowledge,” Karishma said about her experience playing alongside Nepali striker Sabitra Bhandari.
Karishma is already being sized up for bigger things. She has been scouted and picked for a training stint with Palamos CF in Spain earlier this year. The hope is that the club will subsequently arrange a trial for her with CD Fontsanta Fatjo, a professional women’s team currently playing in the third division in the country. It is a huge step for someone so young, and yet not unwarranted.