Former Indian team defender Gouramangi Singh believes that the fresh crop of young defenders must be given enough opportunities to prove themselves before becoming a regular in the national team.
The likes of Jamshedpur FC’s Narender Gahlot and ATK’s Sumit Rathi have attracted eyeballs with their performances for the country at the junior level and in the Indian Super League (ISL) respectively. While Gouramangi believes these players have done well, he remained hesitant in suggesting that these players are in a good position to challenge the national team mainstays.
The former defender praised the likes of Sandesh Jhingan and Adil Khan. He was of the opinion that for the young talents to be considered in the top echelons of the country, they need to play more matches and display consistency.
At the same time, he believes that the youngsters must not be subjected to external pressure and must try to explore the game on their own.
“I like Sandesh Jhingan. He was there when I was with the national team. I think he is doing very well. Among the youngsters, I am talking about Narender Gahlot. I don’t know how many games he was involved in. But we need to give these boys more time. They will need at least 20-30 games a seasonin your bag to be considered as “arrived”,” he said.
“It’s the senior players who are currently doing well. It’s good to see Adil Khan and Sandesh doing well. Regarding the younger players, let’s not put too much pressure on them. Let them explore and find a way for themselves. Of course, they are good. But to prove that they belong to this level, they need to play more matches and fight for their place.
“Time flies. Playing football is the best job. Training every morning and waiting for the weekend game is the best feeling. The sooner they realise this, the better. And they need to take care of themselves, stay away from injuries, enjoy the game and improve every day. We have the likes of Adil only for a few more years and then we will need more names to come up. Hopefully we get to see more new talent coming up in the I-League and the ISL in the new season.
The 34-year-old also spoke about how the Coronavirus situation has affected his pet project KAGO – which aims at training kids and young adults in Manipur. Yet again, he emphasised on the need for enough game-time to help the youngsters gain experience.
“The Covid-19 situation has affected KAGO like it has affected every walks of life. In the last few months, there has been no training. It would be stupid for us to do anything now. There are four coaches who are involved with the academy. We are in touch with the players, we have groups and try to connect over call. But officially we are not open. We are not having any regular training. We are waiting for the government to release new regulations so we can start training. It is very uncertain now.
“Last year they started the Manipur Youth League – a tournament with eight teams playing in the home-away format. The teams get to play 14 matches, but they were unable to complete it because of the Covid-19 situation. We are hoping that the situation is normal soon and they get to play. There are talks that by October they can resume the new league again. For them the U13, U15 and Youth League is very important because they will get some game-time," he concluded.