Indo-British footballer Paranveer Singh recently announced on his website that he is planning to make a permanent shift to India to pursue football. Singh, who started playing the sport as a hobby at the age of 6 in East London, has since then represented several English clubs including West Ham United, Watford FC and Leyton Orient. Speaking in an exclusive interview to The Indian Express, the footballer said that he wishes to have an impact on Indian football.
“I feel my ambition and potential could not be fulfilled in English football. I wish to have an impact on Indian football by fulfilling a life long goal of one day hopefully representing the national team,” the footballer said.
The versatile footballer, who likes to play as an attacking midfielder, believes that it is the perfect time for him to come to India, given the recognition the sport is starting to get in the country. “I think this is the right time to shift to India for me. A lot of things are happening in football in the country and I would love to contribute to the future,” he said.
In the past few years, Singh has traveled to India to spread knowledge of the sport among youngsters as part of his PS14 initiative.
“I have seen the talent, passion and hunger among young footballers in India. The talent the country has does not represent the state of Indian football today but I am sure it is only going to rise,” Singh said on his experiences in India.
But before being considered for a selection in the national team, Singh still has a hurdle to clear. According to a 2008 ruling by the Indian sports ministry, Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders are not eligible to represent India in sports, including football.
Choosing to stay away from expressing his views on the legislation, Singh said, “I support the Indian government and what they look to achieve. Personally, I have a plan in place and I will be eligible in the nearby future.”
Singh also said that he thinks Indian players in foreign countries can help in the rise of Indian football, if allowed to represent the national team. “At the moment because of the eligibility criteria, India does not know what what types of Indian players are around the world. But, for now we must do with what we have,” he said.
In spite of the delays in procedures, Singh hopes he will be eligible to compete within a year or two. “I am hopeful I can compete for a place in the Indian National Team squad towards the end of 2017 or early 2018. The legislations have proved to be a barrier but I am sure when I overcome these barriers, I will be flying and can have an instant impact,” he said.
Singh hopes that he can make every Indian proud of him one day. Talking about his life goals, he said, “I want to represent all Indians around the world and make them proud.”