TODAY -

Bare-footed Nobab (Pomelo) players becoming Pele

Free Thinker *



It was not a great news for Bengal, Kerala, Goa etc., but for us that Amarjit Singh Kiyam from Manipur is selected as the captain of the Indian soccer team for FIFA U-17 World Cup to be played in India, starting from 6th of October.

Everyone says that Amarjit plays like a professional player with great skill and confidence. Someone says he plays like Platini; others say he plays like Zidane. No doubt, Amarjit is a very talented midfielder. The whole nation wants him to lift the coveted Cup for the country. He will continue to wear number 8 jersey, seems lucky for him, and even though number 10 is much respected because of Pele & Maradona.

Encouraging news is that all his team mates want Amarjit to lead the team. This is a kind of endorsement of his skill and caliber. I believe both foreign and native coaches also have faith in his captaincy. They are perhaps impressed by his mesmerizing dribbles, passes and accuracies. And his speed is another advantage. His elder brother discloses to all and sundry that Amarjit talks about football all the time and he is truly crazy about football.

The opening match will be played between host India and the USA, at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi at 8 pm on 6th of October (if I have plagiarized it correctly from the fixture). India’s second match is against Colombia on 9th October and the third match is with Ghanna on 12 th. Hopefully Doordarshan will be covering live all the matches of FIFA U-17 World Cup. If not, other private channels like the ESPN or Sony Pix etc. will do the needful.

It is heartening to know that Amarjit belongs to a very humble family. He was born in a village. His father is a cultivator cum carpenter. His mother sells fishes. Despite all odds he went to Chandigarh Football and Hockey Academy. Then his talent has become known by those who matters. He has been picked up for the national team. Amarjit is a great fan of Baichung Bhutia, though he is too much influenced by the great mid field players of the world.

The biggest advantage of this U 17 team is that they have got the foreign exposure. They played in Germany and Spain. Now they understand how the foreign players play. They also come to know their own standards as compared to their foreign counterparts.

Now they know how much hard work is required to encounter the great soccer nations of the world. I was told that this new team has the caliber and capacity to win any match against any country. Let us hope that they perform well in this tournament.

In the 80’s we could watch the FIFA world cup live on Television. That was a real revolution in terms of our understanding of world FIFA Cup. Then we realized that ‘the quality of football we play at Mapal Kangjeibung is far rudimentary’.

Our prestigious CC Meet is just a child’s play as compared to the world standard. However gradually because of our exposure to international games over the years we have quite improved our standard.

Today our youths know where they stand. Because of Television and internet they can fathom their standard and quality. We are told that Amarjit keeps watching the plays of great players. He keeps watching the recordings of great games and great players. We come to know that he is very much influenced by Andres Iniesta of Spain, a wonderful mid field player of today. In fact the midfield players are the play makers. Great midfielders shape the matches and they virtually control the games.

Once upon a time I was also a great ‘Nobab’ (chakotra/pomelo) player in my locality. When we shifted to leather ball (proper football) I became a flop, then I stopped playing. We never had the luxury of wearing boots while playing.

Today we are so proud that 3 or 4 players (in spiked boots) are included in the national football team. And we are so happy that a player from our village is leading the Indian Team for FIFA (U-17) World Cup. They will certainly bring laurel for the country and for the State. I wish the final match on 28th October is played between India and Brazil and we win by 3 goals to 2.


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on October 02, 2017.


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