Interview with Potsangbam Renedy Singh
- PART 1 -
- Indian professional football player from Manipur -
Some football enthusiasts have come up together to interview Potsangbam Renedy Singh, one of India's best footballers. Renedy has represented India at various age level tournaments in a career spanning more than a decade of excellence and dedication. The renowned midfielder has also played for some of Indiaís biggest clubs like East Bengal, Mohan Bagan, JCT Phagwara, etc and is currently with Reliance. In January 2014, he succeeded former India captain Baichung Bhutia as the president of Football Players Association of India (FPAI).
Excerpt of the interview:
Q1: [Ringo Pebam, Bangalore]: What have been some of the players, teams, matches that you found extraordinary in this 2014 edition of World Cup in Brazil?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: Germany-Portugal fixture was a good match. Colombia and Chile did really well. Good to see smaller countries like Algeria doing good. Iran did well against Argentina, it was not one sided.
Q2: [Michael Keisham, Bangalore]: As per the current form, which team deserves to win the 2014 FIFA World Cup?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: I thought, Brazil would win the tournament but the whole team collapsed in the semi-final. Now I feel, Argentina have got a good chance to win. They are getting better. Even though, Germany is having a great run.
Q3: [Surchand Wahengbam, Bangalore]: Is Manipur still a nursery for talented players who can make a name for themselves in various clubs of India?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: Ten years ago, Manipur was considered the powerhouse of Indian football but not anymore. That's because we didn't have a proper back-up plan. The All Manipur Football Association (AMFA) and the affiliated clubs need to work at the grass root level. Every club should aim to have a dedicated academy.
Brett Holman, Renedy Singh - AFC Asian Cup - India v Australia :: Pix - Robert Cianflone/Getty Images AsiaPac
Q4: [Balan Bhramacharimayum, Bangalore]: What do Imphal need to have its own I-league club?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: Without adequate sponsorship, itís difficult to have a football club. In Manipur, there is no such big organization or business house to spend money in sponsorship.
Q5: [Imo Loitongbam, New Delhi]: What are the shortcomings in Manipuri players trying for foreign clubs instead of Indian clubs? / What are the challenges face by players from Manipur?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: Players from Manipur should first play in the Indian leagues, perform well, get recognised by the coaches/ scouts and then go for trials for foreign clubs. Letís take the example of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who is having trials now in Norwayís top tier outfit 'Stabaek Football'. That way, home grown players can get into foreign clubs.
Q6: [Jayanta Oinam, New Delhi]: How would you rate yourself as a dead ball specialist?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: I am okay. Every day, I am working very hard to improve myself.
Q7. [Sam Khumanthem, Hyderabad]: What would it take for the Indian Football to go to next level?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: We need good coaches in India. We should send a number of good coaches to Europe so that they can learn and bring back the new ideas. That is the only way to change the Indian Football scenario.
Q8: [Ranjan Waribam, Imphal]: What could be the main reason for the downfall of Manipur as a footballing state? Earlier in every I-League there used to be at least two or three Manipuri players in every club but these days we rarely find Manipuri players in top clubs of India, what could be the reason? Is it because of the carelessness of All Manipur Football Association (AMFA) or the results of not conducting grass roots programs in a proper way?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: The downfall is due to both the reasons cited in the previous question (question no. 7) - , a lack of grassroot level training and second, carelessness of AMFA. To put it more elaborately, for the last 10 years or so nothing much has been done to groom the young talents. Moreover, the downfall was accelerated because we did not have a proper back-up plan. If we had proper training facilities earlier on the scenario would have been different. In other words, if every club had come up with the youth development program this would have helped nurture young talents.
Q9: [Krishnakanta Laiphangbam, Bangalore]: Santosh Trophy is the national football championship held every year. Every year AMFA notifies the shortlisted players who are playing at different clubs across India to attend the training camp. As per my limited knowledge, I read/heard that many of them donít turn up so AMFA has to bank on those who are interested. Is the importance and prestige of representing ones home state gone down? What factors would lead a player to abandon his parent association Ė limited opportunities, injury scare?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: In my 16-17 years of my career as a footballer, I have never declined any invitation. It's always a privilege to play for Manipur in the Santosh Trophy. I don't think other players would refuse. Also, from a different angle, it's also good to give chance to younger players who do not get chance to play in competitive tournaments like Santosh Trophy.
Q10: [Bonet Akhikarimayum, New Delhi]: As a successful footballer, what do you intend to do for Manipur in terms of football? Are you going to guide youngsters in moulding their career in football or is there any other plan?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: I would like to give trainings and camp for youngsters in Manipur. Few months ago, Chitrasen and I, conducted camps for 3-4 days and gave training for budding footballers at the age of 10-12 year. The camps were held at Moirang, Malom and Potsangbam. It was sponsored by Football Players Association of India (FPAI), and we provided footballs and jerseys.
Q11: [Aga Akoijam, Bangalore]: What are the merits and demerits of Indian Super League? Will ISL affect the younger generation of football?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: ISL will not affect the IPL. The reason being the dates of the two will not coincide. ISL will start from September to November and IPL starts from December to May. It is always good to play with renowned players because we can learn a lot from them. I have experienced good as well as bad days of IPL. When IPL started in 1996 stadium of 30,000 used to be full but these days only an average of 400 people turn up to see the matches. It is only when East Bengal and Mohun Bagan play against each other that we can see a good number of people. So, I hope the new ISL can bring a good number of people back to the stadiums.
Q12: [Koireng Ngirsiek, Bangalore]: Given the growing scene & popularity of football with I-League being a major hit last season and Indian Super League also slated for this year, where do you see India in the next 5/10 years?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: Without a proper plan, I don't see Indian Football going anywhere. We need good coaches working in all the levels with the support from AIFF.
Q13: [Koireng Ngirsiek, Bangalore]: Manipur has always produced some of the best players in the national level. This season itself, we saw tremendous contributions from three/four Manipuri players in I-League playing for Bengaluru FC, the champions. Time to build a team (Manipur FC/Imphal United) with local players?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: With no sponsors, itís hard to run a club. Without money, the clubs can't sustain. It needs 10-15 crores in a year to run a club. Football enthusiasts can't do it with money from their pockets.
Q14: [Koireng Ngirsiek, Bangalore]: Did the clubs you have played for provide you the platform to grow as a player, as a star, considering you are from the North East?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: I have played with East Bengal for 5 years, Mohun Bagan for 6 years, 3 years with JCT, and 1 year with Lajong FC. I had a good time in all the clubs. I would like to thank coach Sukhwinder Singh who discovered me and called me to be a part of the Indian Football team in 1999. Since then I have played till 2011 for the Indian team without any break. I would like to thank another Indian team coach, Stephen Constantine for his support. Here I would like to say that the best part of my career was when Bob Houghton became the Indian team coach in 2006 and continued till 2011. According to me, he is one of the best coach, that I have ever come across in my footballing career.
Q15: [Koireng Ngirsiek, Bangalore]: Sunil Chhetri recently made a point about you being the most underrated Indian mid-fielder, what do you think what prompted him to make that comment?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: When Sunil joined Mohan Bagan, he was a kid; he was under 16 or 17. We played together in Mohan Bagan for three years, in JCT for three years. We were room-mates; he is like my little brother. We connect very well and have good rapport, on and off the field.
Q16: [Koireng Ngirsiek, Bangalore]: What's like being in AFC Asian Cup squad for the nation? Words of inspiration.....
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: I played for the Indian team for 12 years and yes, Asian Cup was one of the most important tournaments for us because India qualified after 23 years, and in that tournament I scored one and assisted one goal. That was one of the enjoyable moments of my footballing career. This had a lot to do with the then Indian team coach Bob Houghton.
Q17: [Koireng Ngirsiek, Bangalore]: Lots of people admire your free kick. That free kick against Syria in 2009 Nehru Cup being the best. Please Comment.
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: Since I was a kid I have been practicing on taking free-kicks every single day, and to score against Syria with that Free-kick was one of the best feeling.
Q18: [Yasser Khan, Imphal]: According to you, what are expected from the government to help football raise to the desired level?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: I donít expect much from the government as we did not get, and we are used to it; but it will be great if we do get. In my whole career, I did not get help from the government. But it will be good if they now start giving importance to the kids.
Q19: [Roshan Samom, Imphal]: Do you really think in your heart, Manipur is still the/a power-house of Indian football in N.E?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: We were, but not anymore. We should learn from Mizoram, in how they work from grass root level. We should open our eyes, concentrate on the kids to be a powerhouse of football we once were.
Q20: [Ringo Pebam, Bangalore]: What should Indian public in general and Indian government in particular do to bring up football to a higher level?
Potsangbam Renedy Singh: Clubs should do more than the government. I would like to request to the public to give importance to football. When I play in front of 20-30K people, there were about 15K spectators from the North East, honestly I felt proud to be from North East. It's improving, but we need more support.
NOTE: Part 2 of this interview will be posted soon!!!!
* [Questions were crowd-sourced and the Interview was conducted by Ringo Pebam. He can be contacted at ringo(dot)p(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on July 13, 2014
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