A goalkeeper who played for India in a football World Cup now drives an autorickshaw to make ends meet. Hard to believe isn’t it? Well, we are talking about Arindam Ghoshal, 30, from West Bengal, who represented India in the 2010 Homeless World Cup held in Brazil.
Ghoshal, who was the only one from Bengal in the Indian team, received a reception back home and even shared a stage with Indian football legend Sunil Chhetri. The man from Madhyamgram in the North 24 Parganas district tears up when he remembers those golden days. Twelve years on, all those memories feel like a dream for Ghoshal as he has to face financial hardships even after representing the country.
“Even after playing for the Indian team, I did not get any job. With the help of Rathin Ghosh, the MLA from Madhyamgram and the current food minister, I started driving an auto then. From then on, I drove the auto in the morning and practised football in the afternoon whenever I got time.”
“In this country, there must be thousands of players like me who quit the game due to scarcity. I have seen the quality of infrastructure foreign players have. We have nothing, not even food,” says Ghoshal.
Ghoshal’s dream of making it big as a footballer was quashed by a leg injury he suffered while playing, in 2012. His right ankle was broken into three pieces and he had to undergo an operation. He was unable to walk for eight long months. Even though he returned to the field, he had lost his morale.
“After getting injured, I felt I would not play football again. I gave my Indian team jerseys and boots to others. Now I only have the visa papers and the certificate from Brazil,” says Ghoshal, who also played for teams like East Bengal juniors, Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Rajasthan.
These days, Ghoshal plays local football matches for additional income. It is not only for money that he plays football, Ghoshal says. Football is his love, his inspiration to live and fight hardships.
The Homeless World Cup is an annual football tournament organised by the Homeless World Cup Foundation, which advocates the end of homelessness through sport. Mexico are the defending champions and the most successful team in the tournament’s history with 11 titles.