Deep Bag, a junior academy footballer at Mohun Bagan FC, has kept aside his passion for playing football since he has been forced to sell vegetables to make ends meet due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A resident of Konnanagar, in the Hooghly district of West Bengal, 20-year-old Bag was struggling to support his family of four due to the crisis triggered by the lockdown in Bengal.
Bag, who trained at the Durgapur Mohun Bagan U-19 academy and played as a stopper till the last season, used to get an allowance of Rs 1000 during his stay at the academy. His stipend, along with his 68-year-old father’s income, helped the family survive.
As the pandemic set in, Bag was forced to leave the sport and return home. His father, a rickshaw puller, fell sick soon afterwards. Seeing his family’s plight, the youngster started selling vegetables on the streets.
“My father fell ill during the lockdown and now he is incapable of pulling his rickshaw. So that is why I decided to take up this job, at least I can feed my family two meals a day now,” Bag told the indianexpress.com.
Incidentally, Bag was part of the Mohun Bagan team that played the controversial under-19 Football League final against East Bengal last year, which was abandoned due to crowd unrest after spectators hurled bottles. Both the teams were adjudged joint winners.
A Mohun Bagan fan group, The Delhi Mariners, has attempted to raise funds for him on social media.
“We as a group have created a fund and we have also spoken to Ranjit Bajaj. He has said that right now there is no scope of trials but he will try to get him some sort of a stipend. Once the lockdown ends he will be asked to give a trial to ensure that he stays with the game,” said Arijeet Samanta, a spokesperson for Delhi Mariners.
Deep Bag,@Mohun_Bagan Academy Junior Footballer,selling vegetables on footpath to survive,No Team during Lockdown.
— Delhi Mariners (@delhi_mariners) July 13, 2020
However, not all hope is lost. Bag said he continues to practice football in the evenings.
“Once this all ends, I will once again play football professionally, hopefully in the I-League, because football is my only dream,” he signed off.