Manisha Kalyan is an Indian football player. In August 2022, she made headlines after becoming the first Indian woman footballer to take part in UEFA European Women’s Champion League.
Manisha Kalyan was born on Tuesday, 27 November 2001 (age 20 years; as of 2021) in Village Mugowal, Hoshiarpur, Punjab, India. Several sources claim that she belongs to Haryana. After completing her schooling at Sant Attar Singh Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Manisha pursued her higher education at Mehr Chand Mahajan (MCM) DAV College for Women in Chandigarh.
Height (approx.): 5′ 8″
Weight (approx.): 60 kg
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Parents & Siblings
Her father, Narinder Pal, is a businessman. Her mother, Rajkumari Pal, is a homemaker. Her elder sister, Sonam Pal, is a security guard.
She is unmarried.
Manisha Kalyan’s football journey began when she was thirteen years old. According to Manisha, she was spotted playing football by her Physical Education (PE) teacher Brahmjit Singh, who encouraged her to pursue a career in football. Talking about the event, during an interview, Brahmjit Singh said,
Manisha’s footwork was amazing. I convinced the principal to meet her parents. Her father was happy to hear about her talents and permitted me to train her.”
After Brahmjit Singh convinced Manisha’s parents, she started practising football and also represented her school’s football team at several regional and state-level tournaments in Punjab. While pursuing her education, she played the Oorja Cup, where she represented the Border Security Force’s (BSF) team. After the tournament, an officer of the BSF noticed her performance and asked her if she was interested in playing for the Mumbai-based Kankere Football Club. Talking about the incident, she said,
When I played Oorja Cup for Border Security Force, an officer asked me whether I could play for Mumbai’s Kenkre FC in the Indian Women’s League (IWL). I said, first I want my family’s permission.”
In 2017, Manisha Kalyan joined Madurai-based Sethu Football Club, where she participated in the 2018 Indian Women’s League (IWL) and played a vital role in securing the club’s victory at the tournament. In the same year, she was drafted into the U-17 Indian National football team. In July 2018, Manisha Kalyan represented India at the BRICS Cup, which was held in South Africa. During the tournament, her performance was noticed by Kerala-based Gokulam FC during a match against the Chinese team. In 2018, after BRICS Cup, Manisha Kalyan was drafted by Gokulam FC. Later, in the same year, she played for the Indian U-18 team and represented India at the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Women’s Championship. There, the Indian team defeated Bhutan by a margin of 4-0. In 2019, she represented Gokulam FC in the Indian Women’s League (IWL), where she scored a total of three goals throughout the tournament. In October 2018, she represented India at the U-19 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Championship, where she scored a hattrick against Pakistan. In the tournament, India defeated Pakistan by a margin of 18-0 goals. In 2021, Manisha Kalyan represented India in football matches against UAE, Bahrain, and Jordan.
In November 2021, she represented India in the International Football Tournament of Manaus. There, the Indian team was defeated by Brazil by a margin of 6-1. Manisha, in the match against Brazil, managed to score one goal. After the match, during an interview, Manisha said,
The South Americans were a bit taller, that is all. When it comes to fitness, strength and stamina, we can match anyone. Earlier, we used to think that we are physically weak but now we’re much better and aren’t afraid of any team. Skill-wise, I feel we are a bit lacking in our basics like first touch, mis-passes, but we’re all working on it together and feel confident.”
In 2022, she represented Gokulam FC at the Indian Women’s League (IWL) and won an award. In 2022, Manisha Kalyan left Gokulam FC to join Cyprus-based Apollon Ladies FC. She became one of the four Indian women football players to have been drafted by an international football club.
On 22 August 2022, she became the first Indian footballer to have played at the UEFA European Women’s Champion League.
- In 2021, Manisha Kalyan was awarded the Women’s Footballer of the Year award by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
- In 2022, Manisha Kalyan won the Hero of the League award at the Indian Women’s League (IWL). The award was given to her by Hero MotoCorp.
- Before taking up football as a professional sport, Manisha Kalyan practised sprinting and basketball. She also said that she was convinced to play football by her PE teacher Brahmjit Singh after he saw her play football with boys of her age. In an interview, she talked about it and said,
I was into sprinting and basketball. After practice, I used to play football with the boys. One day, my coach saw me kicking the ball around and asked if I wanted to play football. I said yes.”
- According to Manisha’s father, when Manisha told her parents that she wanted to pursue a career in football, her father was sceptical of her decision as he had not heard of a girl’s football team in India. He also claimed that her decision to play football did not go well with the villagers and that the neighbours also started gossiping about Manisha. Talking about it, her father, said,
When she said she wanted to play football, I said there is no women’s football team in our village. She said she would play alone. People began talking, and I said: ‘no worries’. Boys and girls have equal rights. Manisha went for tournaments in far-away villages with the boys’ teams. Ten boys and a girl.”
- According to Manisha, she once pretended to be a boy to participate in a boys’ football tournament. She was caught when the towel that she wrapped around her body loosened. Talking about the incident, Manisha said,
I once wrapped a towel around myself to become a boy, I was made out, but no one made an issue, Instead, they praised me.”
- When Manisha Kalyan was in 9th standard, her father met with an accident which left half of his body paralyzed. The family had to spend approximately eight lacs rupees on his treatment. During an interview, her elder sister said that the family had to sell their land for the treatment of Narinder, and hence they could not afford to do much for Manisha. She said,
We could not afford much for her. She did not even have a proper football kit. She understood it and helped the family as much as she could. We could not even afford a special sports diet for her, she thrived on home made food.”
- According to Manisha Kalyan, she used to cycle 2.5 miles every day from her village to her football coaching academy.
- While giving an interview, Manisha’s elder sister said that during the monetary crunch, the family was helped by Manisha Kalyan’s coach, Brahmjit Singh, and Teja Singh, a wealthy businessman from their village who lived in the United Kingdom (UK). She said,
She kept wearing a worn-out boot for a long time, saying Brahmjit Singh [her coach] bought it, and it is a lucky charm. At other times, Teja Singh, a United Kingdom based businessman from the village, helped us a lot in our need.”