Happy homecoming for Odia women footballers

Bhubaneswar: Four of the five Odia footballers, who were part of India’s Under-14 girls’ football team and were stranded in quake-hit Nepal, returned to Odisha today. The players – Janaki Murmu, Iva Panna, Banya Kabiraj and Shanti Murmu – arrived at Biju Patnaik International airport this afternoon.

Shraddhanjali Samantray, who assisted the team as deputy coach during its Kathmandu trip to participate in the Asian Football Confederation’s Regional Championship for the South and Central Zone, stayed back in Delhi and will return Odisha later, sources said.

The 19-member squad was airlifted from Kathmandu to Delhi in a special aircraft yesterday. Though the evacuation of the team was delayed due to fresh tremors in Nepal, the footballers and team officials reached in Delhi airport at around 4.55 pm.

Earlier, External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had tweeted that the government has prioritised the evacuation of the team. “We will evacuate India’s U-14 girls’ football team on priority,” the tweet read.