She could have taken any sports other than football, but Amanprit Kaur Dosanj (Aman) always wanted to be a footballer and only a goalkeeper. Being the first British Asian (male or female) to play for England, she is also aspiring to play for India, Kulwinder Singh finds Arsenal Ladies Football Club goalkeeper perfectly happy with her lot.
The calm, relaxed demeanour Aman might seem more at home in Highbury ground than the time she spends at anywhere else. And that's why, there is nothing laid back about the game of Aman Dosanj.
Born to Serge (Surjit Singh Dosanj) and Jas (Jasbinder Kaur Dosanj), an under-16 England international had a spell at Southampton Saints WFC before settling into Arsenal Ladies Football Club. Aman was probably deprived of a much more high-profile career by her height, which is, for a goalkeeper, disappointingly short of the five and half feet. Still, the infectiously cheerful Aman insists football has been good to her and never more so since she joined Arsenal Ladies.
Tell me, how did you start playing football, why not any other sport?
I started playing Football because my brother always wanted to play and, since he had nobody to play with, he used to drag me into the garden, stick me in goal and fire shots at me! After a while I started to really enjoy playing, so I joined my infant school team at the age of 6. I started to watch football quite a bit with my brother on TV - especially Arsenal games. Even though I enjoy playing Volleyball, Tennis and Hockey, Football is the main sport I play because it is a competitive, team game, which is unpredictable and I'm fairly good at it!
When you made the decision, whom did you turn to for guidance?
My Mum came to see me play in the infant school and was amazed that there was only one girl in the team - me! Mum heard the parents say how good I was and since then she has encouraged me as well as my Dad. I joined Red Star Southampton Girls' Football club (now known as Southampton Saints) at the age of 10, where I had received goalkeeper training from the former England and Red Star Keeper, Sue Buckett. Sue told my parents that she sees a lot of potential in me to become the next England goalkeeper.
How would you describe your football learning?
In football I believe that you never stop learning because there are always developments in the game, such as new rules in the game or new advances in training. In particular my learning of the game is increasing all the time, since completing the Junior Team Managers coaching course. I am training with a number of coaches, so I am learning new ways of coaching, which allows me to develop my own style of coaching.
Were there any particular players you looked up to as a child?
When I was younger, I always used to watch Arsenal Ladies when they played in Southampton. My favourite player was the Arsenal number nine, Marianne Spacey, who also played for England. Another player that I looked and still look up to is David Seaman because he is a quality goalkeeper.
Another player that I look up to is probably the best woman's player in the world, Mia Hamm. Mia has recently been named as one of the top twenty biggest stars in American sports. She is the most capped international footballer and has succeeded as a female sports star.
How did the move to play come about?
Whilst playing at Southampton Saints WFC, I had played twice for the England Under 16s team. My Dad had phoned Arsenal Ladies Football Club asking whether David Seaman did any coaching courses for kids. Dad started to tell Clare about me being the first British Asian (male or female) to play for England and that I play for the Southampton Saints Reserve team.
While I had attended another England training camp, Vic had phoned me to ask whether I would sign on for Arsenal. This offered me the chance to play in top quality side, have access to first class training facilities and develop as a player.
Have the English national team players accepted you since you are from Indian origin?
To be honest, I don't think many of the England team knew that I was from Indian origin. Nobody really talked about it, so it wasn't an issue. With the players who knew my origin, it did not matter because they knew I was at the England camp because of my skill and had earned my place.
Which match is your most memorable?
My most memorable game that I have played in was in April 1999, when I went with the England U16 to Dublin for the first ever Five Nations Tournament. I had come on in the second half of the Republic of Ireland against England game, where the score at half time was 1-1. This game was most memorable for me, as I had made the best saves of my life! I think that neither my parents nor I will ever forget that moment.
Which English team do you support?
Since I was younger, I have always supported Arsenal. Moving to Arsenal Ladies was a dream come true because they are the leading woman's team in England and I got to train at Arsenal's football ground - Highbury, as well as train at their multi million pound training ground in London. Furthermore I got to play with a number of well-known Arsenal players, such as Marianne Spacey, Rachel Yankey, Clare Wheatley, Ciara Grant and Jane Ludlow.
Who do you think is the best current England's keeper?
I think that both David Seaman and Nigel Martin are both quality keepers, however because Seaman is the more experienced of the two keepers and has more experience with England, I think that he is probably England's best keeper at the moment.
What is your feeling about the future of the goalkeepers in England?
The future of the goalkeepers in England is looking positive, as many young goalkeepers have started to get into the Premiership sides. The Leeds United goalkeeper, Robinson, is an amazing all rounded goalkeeper who has such a bright future ahead of him. Another goalkeeper of the future is Arsenal's Stuart Taylor, who has already trained with the English senior team.
Would you want to play for a club in another country?
I have always wanted to play in America because the game there is so much more advanced than in England. At the moment I am trying to get a scholarship in America, so that I can get my degree as well as play football for the university. I would like to play for the Washington Freedom or the Philadelphia Charge of the WUSA league (Woman's United Soccer Association).
Realistically, I would love to have the opportunity to play for India.
Did you dream of playing in the Women's World Cup for England?
Since I was younger, I have always dreamed of playing for England in the World Cup. This is probably due to the World Cup being the largest football event in the World and a major sporting achievement. As the 1999 USA Woman's World Cup finals were televised and the finals were such a sporting success for woman's football, as so many people had watched the finals, it had made me want to be apart of the World Cup finals ever more so.
What does your friends think of you playing football?
Ever since I was little, my friends have been really supportive of me. At secondary school, I had got selected for the England Under 16s team and the whole school made a real big deal of it by putting my pictures on the wall and announcing it in assembly, which I didn't like because I don't like being treated any differently than anyone else.
Now that I am at college, and the majority of my friends are Asian, it's really cool because they're all really supportive of me and are really proud of me for being the first British Asian to play for England.
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