Ruheena Tankariwala, Women's Football Team Captain

The women’s football team at Ashoka University is a force to be reckoned with. Apart from the numerous tournaments they have won, their camaraderie and team spirit is laudable. Ruheena Tankariwala, the captain for the team opens up about her experience playing football, leading a team and her personal routine in life:  


Q: What made you choose football over other sports at Ashoka?

A: I have played football throughout school and it’s always been one of my favorite sports, so I decided to take it up at Ashoka.


Q: What are some of the responsibilities of being a football captain at Ashoka?

A: It’s kind of like acting as a link between the team and the sports department—to arrange matches, tournaments, reminding people to come to practice, nagging people to come to practice (laughs). I guess motivating your team and trying to model yourself as someone who the team looks up to.

Ashoka University's Women's Football Team 2016. Spot Ruheena first on the right in the front row


Q: Have you been on any diet to keep up with your lifestyle? If so what is your favorite healthy food? What is your favorite cheat day food?

A: I have been injured for five months and haven’t been playing at all so my lifestyle is not very healthy at the moment. I tend to have more cheat days than ‘healthy food’ days. My favourite healthy food would be a salad. My favourite cheat food is pizza.


Q: The general notion is that “Men who play football are more attractive than men who don’t.” What do you think?

A: Completely agree (Laughs).


Q: Have you personally witnessed/experienced sexism on the football field when you play with men?

A: No, not really. Especially not here. We’ve played with the guys [team] a lot of times and if anything, they are a lot more cautious playing with the girls [team]. No, they are not sexist at all. I have never played with guys who have been sexist.


Q: What is one memory you have of playing football at Ashoka that you cherish?

A: The Agneepath tournament—Agneepath 1.0.

Ruheena sharing a light-hearted moment with her teammates


Q: Which is your favorite football team?

A: Arsenal!


Q: What is the one crucial piece of advice that you would give to beginners who are hesitant to join the football team?

A: Don’t hesitate. Just come and try it out because even if you are not that great at the sport, it’s just a lot of fun playing and being part of the team. So just come and give it a shot.


Q: Why did you choose Ashoka?

A: Ashoka was kind of my backup option. I wanted to go to HKU and do engineering and I got in there. But, I decided a weekend before that I wasn’t going to go to HKU, and I decided on Ashoka—just spur-of-the-moment. I don’t really know what it was that changed my mind, but I am here now.


Q: How do you juggle singing and football together? What are some other extra-curricular activities you a part of? How does football affect your GPA?

A: All of this affects my GPA very, very badly (laughs). But, actually, I don’t think it is all of these things that affect my GPA. I am not involved in many extra-curriculars, because I like having a lot of time to chill (laughs). I am generally really lazy and a procrastinator so my GPA is shit anyways. Even if I wasn’t doing all of these things, my GPA would have been really bad. So I wouldn’t say that it is the football and singing that is affecting my GPA negatively. In terms of juggling, you need to get your priorities in order and be efficient with your time. That’s all.


Q: Is the mess food sufficient in giving you nutrients to play sports?

 A: Yes, definitely. Almost over sufficient.


Q: Do you face challenges as a woman when you are playing on your period?

A: No. It’s a bit hard to get myself out of bed to get to practice when I am on my period, but once you’re playing, it’s actually one of the best things—cramps go away. You forget about all the pain, when you are exercising or playing a sport.


A very striking quality about Ruheena is that she keeps it real. It’s refreshing to talk to someone who won’t shy away from talking about the hard stuff like sexism on the field and giving her candid opinion, such as managing her GPA or cheat day. It gives us all hope that maybe we too can take on as much and still find time for playing or doing what our heart desires.

All images are courtesy of our super-talented interviewee Ruheena Tankariwala.