Goa has long been beckoning stopper Ratan Kumar for reasons other than the tourist hub that it is.
After being declined an offer by Sesa Goa four years ago due to technical reasons,he finally got over the wait early this year when Sporting Clube de Goa technical director Peter Wallace spotted him. From a tentative place in Delhis under-21 team,surviving allegations of alcoholism and misbehaviour,the I-League contract took some time coming,but in the least predictable circumstances.
We (Delhi) couldnt make the second round of the under-21 nationals,losing to Assam 2-1,and were short on goal difference. The performance of the team was really poor but a few individual efforts were impressive. Peter Wallace offered me the contract and its the biggest thing to have happened to me so far, Ratan says,adding,I was expecting a big contract earlier and Sesa Goa were the first to show interest. But later they said theyd play only boys from Goa. It surprised me more than it hurt me.
He says the contract will help him pay back a few dues and let his brother Prem Kumar travel to England from where he had to decline a few offers from the junior teams during the Welsh Cup because of sparse finances. The 21-year-olds steps from the Ambedkar and Nehru stadiums to the Colava and Miramar beaches,however,could be time-consuming.
I just got my knee operated for an injury I sustained during the Santosh Trophy trials. Its a ligament tear and I cant play before December. Thats devastating and its the reason I didnt inform my family about the contract. Ill let them know only before leaving, the former Simla Youngs player says.
Football wasnt Ratans first priority he had gone to the Nehru Stadium in 2000 to take up cricket when then football coach Harish Mandal advised him to play football because of the affordability factor. But now Ratan is hoping for December to climb up the calendar sooner than later.
I just want to get over this phase and enter the field. Nobody is happy at home. They think Im up to no good. Even the drinking allegations were untrue. I want to take everybody out of the current situation and the only way I can do it is by playing. Once I begin,I will let my brother travel to England. Then who knows,I might even start playing there,because I never thought of playing in India.