March 10, 2009 11:06:35 pm
Former Hindustan FC mid-fielder Gurung says life changed after his Goa move
Sesa Football Academy team mates and officials refer to him as the boy from Delhi,but Israel Gurung has spent most of his playing days in the hills of Kalimpong and Shillong. It was for recognition and reward as a footballer that the 19-year old descended down the plains and the Delhi boy reference,he says,stands tall behind his exploits thus far.
They call me so because this is the city that thrust me into professional football. In Shillong and Kalimpong I used to play in local tournaments. From there I was picked by the SAI (Sports Authority of India),but I left the hostel (in Silliguri) after a year before coming to Delhi, Gurung says.
Hindustan FC was the first professional club Gurung turned out for,but its just not the first-break that the mid-fielder was looking forward to.
More than playing in Delhi,its for the coach that Im thankful to the city. Playing under Bernard (Oparanozie),who was coaching Hindustan FC then was the best thing to happen to me at that moment. He has a distinct understanding of each player and he deals with them distinctly too, explains Gurung.
Last April,the current Indian Nationals coach fixed up an appointment with Sporting Clube de Goa coach Clifford Chukwama,but Gurungs credentials perfectly matched Sesas requirements who were preparing for their first professional season. They were happy with my trials and initially it was good that I wasnt playing in the I-League. Its better to play than sitting out. So,I grabbed the chance with both hands, Gurung said.
Playing against the best
The most visible change was that of playing against big players,even with this seemingly low-profile bunch. In Goa league,playing with players like Odafe Okolie (of Churchill Brothers) was a challenging task. For the first time,I felt the need to raise my game. This is something I missed badly in Delhi, said Gurung.
Thats why just a year in the Capital and he was dying to leave the city. Delhi is a nice place but not the best one for football. In Goa,everything follows a system. There the league itinerary comes out well before the first match,giving you time to prepare,while in Delhi the league gets postponed over and over again. By the end of the season,I was just waiting for the DSA league to get over. I also wanted to improve my game that got stagnated here, says Gurung.
Hes unsure of his next destination,but for the moment,taking his club to the main round of the I-League is atop his priorities. I might think of settling down in Kolkata as playing there in front of the mad crowds is a challenge I would love. But right now,I want to take my team to the I-League. The rest will fall in place, he said.
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