New Delhi, September 29
Amarjit Singh Kiyam was taken by surprise when he was chosen by his teammates, through an internal poll, to lead India in the U-17 World Cup. He, however, insisted that he believes in the unity of the team and not on individuals.
Head coach Luis Norton de Matos had told the squad of 21 boys to pick a captain of their choice and the Manipuri midfielder Amarjit got the highest number of votes, ahead of Jitendra Singh and Suresh Singh Wangjam, who led the side in the AFC U-16 Championships and BRICS Cup 2016 held in India.
“I was very much surprised when the coach told me that I was the captain of the team. It was an amazing feeling for me. But at the end of the day we play as a team, we win as a team and we lose as a team. Individuality matters little, unity is the strength of this team,” Amarjit said. Hailing from village Haokha Mamang in Manipur’s Thoubal district, Amarjit faced hardships during his childhood. His farmer father and fish-seller mother toiled hard to run their family and at the same time save some money from their meagre income to support their son’s passion for football.
That could explain Amarjit’s unassuming demeanour. But he asserted that he would stamp his authority when the need arises. “I speak when it is needed, I don’t speak unnecessarily. I don’t mince words (when I feel it is necessary). There is no particular philosophy of my captaincy. In fact, I want everyone to be a captain in their own right and dominate their part of the pitch,” he said, making it clear that he is the leader of the team.
Dreams of football
Growing up in a football-mad state in a remote corner of the country, Amarjit had dreamt of donning national colours since his childhood. He is now on the verge of achieving the dream of playing in the biggest global stage in his age level. “I used to think that one day I will represent the country and I am here now about to play in the U-17 World Cup. I still cannot believe it because it all feels like a dream,” said Amarjit.
Amarjit fell in love with football at his local school and in 2010, he left for Chandigarh where his elder brother Umakanta Singh was enrolled at the state-run Chandigarh Football Academy. The academy provided him free lodging, food and even bore the cost of his education at a school in Chandigarh. In 2015, during one of the exposure trips to Goa, Amarjit caught the eye of the national selectors. He was called to the AIFF Academy in Goa and since then he has been training there. Amarjit said his father Chandramani Singh Kiyam and mother Ashangbi Devi had always supported him to play football.
“My father is a farmer and during the off-season, he works as a carpenter but he never asked me to join him. He encouraged me to play football and follow my heart’s desire,” he said. — PTI
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