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Scoring against odds

Mohun Bagan’s Kingshuk Debnath has overcome all the odds to become Bengal’s sporting hope.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Published: January 1, 2012 2:50:28 am

Kingshuk Debnath has a habit of sleeping through the alarm. His 60-year-old mother Sikha,however,stays awake to ensure that his football player son doesn’t miss his morning practice.

The alarm clock is usually set at 4.30am,for Debnath has to cover close to 30 km to drop in at the Mohun Bagan ground.

The journey to the ground itself is quite an ordeal. Not always does one see that a footballer from a top club taking local train to come to the ground. Debnath takes Bandel Local from Sreerampore to Howrah and then catches the first bus available to the ground. The odds that he faced in his childhood made the 24-year-old pretty hardened.

Of late,Bengal hasn’t been producing top class footballers. The Kolkata giants,Mohun Bagan and East Bengal,continue to dominate the transfer market but they are basically building their teams on outsiders. Very few local talent has been able to make a mark. Debnath is one of them.

He is from a lower middle-class family in Sreerampore and looks frail. Yet,he has overcome the drawback with skill and courage.

Debnath’s family migrated from Samudragarh village to Hooghly district when he was very young. “My father Bidyut Debnath got a job in the Jayasree Mill and we had to move. Not that his job brought in a great deal in terms of money. In fact,we always struggled to make ends meet,but the good thing was that my father never discouraged me from playing football. It was impossible for him to fulfill all my requirements – I didn’t have a pair of football boots even after I joined the Sreerampore Coaching Centre – but my father was keen to see I become a footballer. My mother also supported me a lot. Without their support I might have worked in a factory after completing the junior school,” Debnath told The Sunday Express.

Rabindranath Das,Debnath’s coach at Sreerampore Coaching Centre,played a huge role in shaping up his young ward’s career. “He (Das) gave me proper food and took special care to ensure that I was able to force myself and go on in my endeavour. I am really indebted to him,” says Debnath.

By the time Debnath completed his Class X from Mahesh High School,he was a star in the district league. Rishra Sporting Club offered him a contract and helped him start dreaming big – an opportunity in the Kolkata maidan.

The chance came in 2004 when Aryan showed interest. Then Debnath moved to Wari and played there for two years. But he began to flourish only after joining Chirag United in 2008.

“It was at Chirag United where I made a big progress. Credit goes to Ratan Saha and Kundu,who were outstanding officials with a genuine love for the game. And special mention to our coach Subrata Bhattacharya who moulded me into a big team player,” said Debnath.

Bhattacharya too is pretty hopeful about the player’s future. “He has courage and very good anticipation. But he will have to be consistent. It’s important to keep in mind that a match is played for 90 minutes and you need to have total concentration for the entire duration of the game. But he is young and a willing learner,which is the best thing about him,” Bhattacharya said.

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