Srimanee’s journey from futsal to the Women’s World Cup

To be successful in football, certain factors need to be just right. First and most obviously, you need the right team, which should in turn include players with physical and technical abilities. Although Thailand’s Orathai Srimanee possesses both, it is her ball skills that have allowed her to shine in Canada.

“Before I played football on grass, I played futsal for a long time,” the Thai striker told FIFA.com. “I developed a really good technique that way.” Longing to play outdoors after several years in sports halls, Srimanee joined a team in her hometown. “I’d seen how they played and really wanted to be part of it,” the diminutive goalscorer recalled.

This switch paid dividends, ultimately leading her to play for Thailand at this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015™. It is the first time the Asian side have made it to the biggest tournament in women’s football, and today they celebrated winning their first points at the finals. The 27-year-old delivered a superb performance, scoring twice as her country defeated Côte d’Ivoire 3-2.

“I’m very excited and so happy,” she said after the game, a grin stretching from ear to ear. “The team are just fantastic; it’s so much fun to play alongside them.” The Live Your Goals Player of the Match award she clutched in her hand made her an incredibly popular subject for photos taken by team-mates and coaching staff alike.

Although she smiled and joked around for each and every shot, Srimanee was beginning to look a little tired after her relentless efforts on the pitch. She had to be substituted in the 73rd minute after being plagued by cramp, for which she offered up a simple explanation: “The pitch is much bigger than in futsal, and you need so much more energy.”

A very special birthday present Nevertheless, this exertion should have its benefits, as the excitement of the day and its many memorable moments could well have made it difficult to get the sleep the striker so deserved. “I’m sure I’ll keep waking up anyway, but I’m so shattered from the match that I could go to sleep right away,” said Srimanee, who also works at a university.

She would no doubt have to wait a few hours before being able to climb into bed, as the next day, Friday 12 June, is her 27th birthday – but there will be no time for a big party then. “We’re travelling to Winnipeg tomorrow for our game against Germany,” Srimanee explained. “There might be some cake, but not too much as we’ve got to prepare well for the next match.”

Her greatest gift this year is undoubtedly the one she has already given herself, with her second goal proving particularly memorable. Her header from a cross struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced downwards, and at first it was not clear whether the ball had crossed the line. “I thought it was in straight away, but I was only sure when the assistant referee raised her flag. It was an incredible feeling,” she recalled.

Although it is sometimes said that early presents bring bad luck, this does not apply to Srimanee. For a start, the time difference meant it was already her birthday in her homeland when she netted her goals. What’s more, anyone who plays in the shirt number 13 and still scores twice clearly does not have a problem with bad luck. “I’ve been playing as No13 since my futsal days, and when I started playing football I got that number again,” she explained. “It’s actually a lucky number for me. It was sheer coincidence that I was given it again.”

As luck would have it, she has now immortalised this shirt number by becoming her country’s first goalscorer in the history of the Women’s World Cup – and completing her journey to the biggest stage of all.