A new pair of studs, a television dish, a laptop and perhaps a new beginning. That’s Subroto Cup’s most promising player Dip Majumdar’s special day in a nutshell. His team, Army Boys, on Saturday went down in the final to a stronger Brazilian side, Atletico Paranaense, but not without a fight. Unlike their previous triumphs, they were made to sweat for the win. The difference proved to be a goal converted from the spot.
With the disappointment of losing the game still reflecting on his body language, Majumdar took a while before he could gather himself and speak. “This is the biggest day of my life,” he said. As part of the award, the 16-year -old was also given a laptop. “Ye mera pehla laptop hai (This is my first laptop),” he says with a tinge of disbelief.
Back home, Majumdar’s parents had just installed a television dish to watch their son play in the final. His father was once an aspiring footballer, but had to quit after an appendix surgery. His elder brother made it to the U-16 national team, but plagued by ligament injures, he couldn’t make it big either. The elder Majumdar got his brother a new pair of studs to play the final. “It cost him Rs 8,000. I have never worn such an expensive shoe in my life,” Majumdar said.
He credits his come-uppance to his family, the elixir of his life.”My family keep encouraging me. We have limited resources but that has never stopped my family from supporting and providing me with whatever I require for training and excelling in the sport. My father and brother could not reach the top echelons of football , but it’s my desire to become a top footballer and make them proud.” Majumdar hails from Kolkata where his father runs a meat shop.
Brazliain football legend Rivaldo watching the proceedings from the stands further made his day . The 1998 Ballon d’or winner was the guest of honour for the final. In 2011, Majumdar took part in a local tournament in Kolkata where it was announced that all the goal-scorers would be given a ticket to watch an exhibition match featuring Argentine Lionel Messi. A die-hard Messi supporter, Majumder ensured he was among the scorers. He got his tickets too. But from where he was seated in the stadium, he could hardly glimpse Messi. “I could hardly see Messi. He was so far.”
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However, things were quite different on Saturday evening. “I shook hands with Rivaldo. I haven’t seen him play live, but I watch his videos. This is another first in my life. Never have I met such a big star in my life,” he says with wide-eyed enthusiasm.
For the boys from Brazil, playing in subcontinent was an eyeopener. in every sense They had never played so many back-to-back matches in any tournament prior to this. Even the style of game they faced was different. “It’s all about short passes back home. Here we see that the game is quite different: long balls and fast-paced,” felt Luiz Greco, the international affairs director of the Brazilian club. Greco is no stranger to Indian football, as he was the technical director of Mohan Bagan nine years ago and has fond memories of the country.
Apart from winning the tournament, the boys boarded the flight to India with another desire– that was to visit the Taj Mahal. The rigorous scheduling meant that they could sneak out for a visit only a couple of days before the final game. “Uno Taj Mahal ” is what Victor , a member of the squad, is taking home for his family. “I love the hospitality in India. I feel the people here are in many ways similar to people back home,” said manager Marcelo Vilhena.
“I see that the country has several issues to deal with. Not everyone is economical y sound. The same holds for Brazil. A lot of people are in turmoil, but what’s important is that people rise above this problems and never forget to smile and enjoy life,” he added.