For close to half a decade,Samuel Lalmuanpuia has been a signature name associated with the Chandigarh Football Academy. He has maintained decency,artistry and loyalty to the UT and the academy teams,and became a fan favourite not simply for his ability,but for taking the teams onto a transcendental level with his creative play and brilliant skills. He played and scored some incredible goals for the state and academy teams and made sure the sweet sound of success was heard by people all over India. He stayed faithful to the academy when others ran for the exit and continued to make constant endeavours to take Chandigarh back to its glory days.
But now,that seemingly indefatigable spirit is broken and Samuel is begging for more time to enjoy his game,to show the selectors what had escaped under their noses.
The sands of time are running out for him.
For a player who seemed predestined for success,all that are left now is a flagging hope of a better tomorrow. Just a few days ago,he seemed to the first choice of the selectors when he stepped on to the pitch along with his teammates in the Bajaj Allianz football camp. Longing for some action,the event,which was held to select five best players from India and give them an opportunity to train in Municg,Germany at Allianz Arena,the home to Champions League and Bundesliga winners last year,Bayern Munchen FC,seemed to be the perfect foil to prepare for the season to come.
But that dream was short-lived. Samuel and his teammates made exit from the tournament at the semi-final stage,meaning that somebody else got the opportunity to fly to Germany for the training camp. That person turned out to be Inder Mohan,who is Samuel’s teammate at CFA.
While it ushered a new chapter in Inder’s life,it meant more agony for Samuel. If failing to make it to the final in the above mentioned tournament was not enough,the nagging tendon injury made his life more miserable. The pain aggravated and snatched from him the opportunity to display his skills in the pre-Subroto Under-17 football tournament.
When a player has been the best of his kind,the pain of being deprived of working his magic on the field becomes cerebral rather than physical.
“I am a bit disturbed right now. The tendon injury,which he has been nursing for long,has been nagging me. Moreover,I had hopes pinned on making it to the football camp in Germany. However,nothing of that sort happened and I also missed most of the pre-Subroto matches. This is a chronic injury and will take time to heal. However,I am sure I will be fit by the time we start our campaign in Subroto and Administration’s Cup,” shared Samuel.
Trinity of Chandigarh football
SAMUEL,15,along with Daniel Lalhlimpuia and Khiangte Lalramzauva,formed the trinity of Chandigarh football when the UT academy team created ripples in national and international tournaments. Their easy on eyes game,built on trust and mutual understanding,has often helped Chandigarh finish on the podium. They created so languidly and so artistically that it seemed all the three shared the same wavelength. There was not doubt that the three brought the best in each others.
Their camaraderie was on display in the last tournament which they played together,the Administrator’s Cup which the CFA team won,and before that the Manchester United Premier Cup,where the academy team reached the quarter-finals of the South East Asia finals held in Indonesia last year.
With assistance from both Daniel and Lalramzauva,Samuel emerged as the best player in the North,North East and East qualifiers of the MUPC held at Jamshedpur and later on in Indonesia,where he was chosen as one of the five best players of the tournament.
However,the trajectory of their career has changed. While Daniel and Lalramzauva climbed the ladder of success,Samuel continues to remain where he had started. In the last few years,both Daniel and Lalramzauva had become pivotal members of the Indian U-16 and now the U-19 team,while Samuel was part of the Under-14 national camp once last year.
“When Samuel went to the national camp,he was told by the AIFF selectors that they will put him in the Indian Under-16 team. However,due to lack of major tournaments and exposure,he could never attract the attention of the selectors again. In the last one year,we have hardly played any tournament. To put his case forward,Samuel needs tournaments,” added Harjinder,coach of Chandigarh Football Academy.
When the team continued to toil on the field without any direction,without any tournament,the players looked for new destinations where they could play tournaments on a regular basis. When nine of his teammates ran for the exit,Samuel wanted to join them too but Harjinder managed to coax him to stay put.
“He is a very sincere player but when his other teammates left for other academies,Samuel,too,was attracted by the prospect of getting the opportunity to play for the AIFF Regional Academy in Mumbai. Had he gone there,he certainly would have earned a spot in the team. But I persuaded him to stay here. And since most of the players have left the academy,instead of midfield,we have to play him up front in tournaments,” said the former international.
But Samuel’s success lies in midfield,where he can marshal the midfield with his exquisite skills. Lacking the physical presence and the big strides needed to make a good striker,Samuel could not repeat the same success as a forward. “That is one of the reasons why he has been overlooked by the selectors because they look for players blessed with good heights for international tournaments,” said the coach.
There is no doubt that nobody could match Samuel’s feet but he is too callow to withstand the physical atrocities of the demands of big tournaments. “He will be successful in the midfield as he has tremendous footwork. I have told him to work on his strength. There are two three big national tournaments lined up in the coming months and I am sure he will give his best to impress the selectors. He just needs to be patient and keep persevering to achieve his goals,” said Harjinder.