Carlton Miranda of St Andrew's College (Bandra) was born with a deformity in his left hand, but that hasn't stopped him from chasing his football dreams. Yesterday, the 18-year-old's defensive skills stood out as the Bandra outfit registered a 2-1 win over Sydenham College (Churchgate) in a Mumbai University inter-collegiate football match at University Pavillion, Marine Lines.
St Andrew's College's Carlton Miranda (right) in action against Sydenham College at the University Pavilion yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK
Elton Quadros and Mecwyn Castelino scored a goal each for St Andrew's, while Faizel Kader reduced the margin for the Churchgate outfit. Carlton does not have a left hand — it is reduced to a stump — but the birth defect hasn't restricted him from being the best defender in his team.
The path this far hasn't been easy though for this Vakola resident. "As a kid, children would make fun of me while playing. I would feel very bad and cry alone often asking God why he made me like this. But as years passed by, I learnt to do everything on my own. And now that I'm totally independent, I don't feel that I'm lacking in any way. In fact, even my teachers, coaches and family members do not give me any preferential treatment and I like it that was," said the 18-year-old FY Bcom student who dislikes those who sympathise with him.
Playing football was tough too for Carlton initially. "As a defender, I need to stop players from attacking or scoring. Earlier, I had problems when a player would charge from my left, but I worked on that aspect of my game and now I can tackle from either side," added the Neymar Jr and Gerard Pique fan. Carlton's dad Kenneth was a keen spectator at the University Pavillion yesterday. The proud father later recalled his son's tough younger phase.
"Carlton started playing football as a kid, but his body was weak and he would fall ill often. Doctors advised him against playing and he was forced to give up. Later, in school (St Anthony's, Vakola) he played for a year in Class VI but stopped again due to health problems. Today, watching him play for his senior college team, I feel proud," said Miranda Sr.
Carlton is an inspiration to his teammates. "He is a very integral part of our team. For the outside world he may seem to have a handicap, but the way he plays and manages himself on and off the field, he's an inspiration to all of us," said striker Elton.