The Daily Star (TDS): How was your overall experience in the IWL?
Sabina Khatun (SK): There is no end to learning. I have played a lot of international matches, but I found something new over there. The fitness and strength that I saw of the Indian players was excellent and that's what made the matches so competitive.
TDS: How did you feel when an Indian-born-British player [Tanvie Hans] had to sit at the reserve-bench because of your performance?
SK: Of course it was one of best feelings of my career. I secured my place in the playing eleven by proving myself. To be honest, it probably would not have been possible to impress had the coach not given me the opportunity to play in the first match against KRYPSHA.
TDS: Can you be a bit more specific as to how you impressed the coach?
SK: I took the field in place of Tanvie Hans after 70 minutes and I tried to give my best. I had four to five good moves but despite that fact we lost the match. Later, the coach might have got interested after seeing me in a training session ahead of the second match. Since then, I never thought I would lose my place despite the fact that Tanvie is a winger, not a striker. Besides, I knew if I could help the team win matches by scoring, the team management would surely not include a winger instead of me.
TDS: Describe your sixth goal of the campaign, the one that you brilliantly curled in from just inside the box.
SK: We beat Indira Gandhi Academy 3-1 in that game even though they were the stronger side. The winning goal, which I curled into the far post, was the outcome of training at home. Choton Sir and Litu Sir always took us through 10 to 15 minutes of extra drills after the practice sessions where we worked on shooting.
TDS: Was there any different impression about Bangladesh women's football after your performance in India?
SK: We, Krishna and I, certainly played a big role in India and let them know about Bangladesh women's football. We have many good players now and I believe after this performance, they will sign up more players from Bangladesh.
TDS: Any other good memories from your two-week stay in India?
SK: One positive thing I could feel was the faith and belief they had on me. They felt I could bring a game Sethu FC's way by scoring goals. In a match where the half-time score was at 1-1, the coach told me during the interval, 'Sabina you can do it', and I did it by scoring one in the second half.
TDS: All the top Indians played in the league and you saw them closely. How would you compare them to Bangladeshis? Can Bangladesh compete with them in the SAFF Women's Championship in December?
SK: In the last SAFF Women's Championship, we played with juniors but this time those players are more experienced as they have played a lot of international matches at the U-15 and U-16 levels, including matches against Japan and Korea. More importantly, our women footballers have been in a training camp round the year. So I believe we will play better football against India compared to the last time.
TDS: How are you enjoying your football life as you travel to different countries to represent Bangladesh?
SK: To be honest, it is a life very few people can have. It is a privilege. When we represent Bangladesh in different counties and go to the field, I enjoy the way we are escorted.
TDS: There is no women's competition in Bangladesh. So how do you keep yourself fit for the international level?
SK: I always practise to keep myself fit. Besides, I have been in the training camp with national age-group teams for nearly one-and-a-half years which is helping me a lot in keeping myself fit round the year.
TDS: Once upon a time, Bangladeshi male footballers used to play in Indian leagues, but those days are long gone. Now you have played in Maldives and India. How do you feel playing a foreign league as a Bangladeshi?
SK: It is a matter of pride when you represent your country in a foreign league. Among 16 million people, only two girls went beyond the boundary to represent Bangladesh, which is a matter of great pride.
TDS: Do you feel the BFF should restart the women's league?
SK: Yes, we need to play more matches; otherwise the footballers will not improve. Besides, the players need a source of income so that they can support their families. If the league is held every year, players will be benefited financially and the standard of women's football will increase gradually.
TDS: You have been with the national team since 2010. How long do you wish to serve the national team?
SK: I will try to play and support the national team as long as I can.