At an age where the average teenager spends most of his time on smartphones or watching movies, Kiyam Amarjit Singh spends his time focusing monk-like on his first and only love: football.
Kiyam Amarjit Singh. Pic/Atul Kamble
For, he is not your average teenager. He is the captain of the current U-16 Indian football team which will play the U-17 World Cup in 2017 — the first time India will be competing in a football World Cup at any level. In a little less than two years, the 14-year-old will have the weight of a nation’s expectations on his shoulder as he helps India navigate the unchartered territory that is the FIFA World Cup. That’s a massive burden for anyone, let alone a Standard IX student. However, Amarjit makes light of it.
“There is some pressure (on us to perform). But it doesn’t feel like the U-17 World Cup is approaching or anything,” the midfielder told mid-day yesterday.
Since April, Amarjit and 33 other players, representing the cream of India’s footballing talent, have been living at All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) Fatorda, Goa campus or visiting countries like Spain, Germany and UAE on exposure trips. In fact, since April Amarjit has been to his Chandigarh home just for 15 days.
“We put in a lot of effort. We have been leading a very disciplined lifestyle: get up on time, going to training sessions on time. That’s why we improve. Coach (Nicolai Adam) has taught us discipline, josh (vigour) and aggression,” Amarjit said.
An average day with the Indian team consists of two one-and-a-half-hour training sessions besides one or one-and-a half-hour-long ‘football theory’ session where the players are shown videos of football matches from European leagues. Soon, they’ll also be shown videos of the 2015 U-17 World Cup matches from Chile.
But the ebullient lad doesn’t mind. After all, for him, even watching ISL matches is entertainment. “My life is just football,” he said simply.
India's future U-17 team has already begun to attract attention from European clubs. According to their coach Nicolai Adam, three boys under him piqued the interest of La Liga club Levante during their tour of Spain in October. The Indian boys lost 0-1 against Levante’s U-16 side on October 2 before going down 2-3 to the U-19 Levante International a day later. Adam said: “While there was interest in the three boys, we could not allow them to join because they are crucial to the team. Besides they are minors and the European Union rules don’t allow minors to play there,” Adam told mid-day. The German, however, refused to reveal the players’ names.