By Wangkheimayum Bhupendra Singh
IMPHAL, December 13: A regular with the Indian national football team, Moirangthem Gouramangi had recently added another feather to his achievements by winning the SAFF tournament with the Indian national team at New Delhi recently.
A centre back who has played with numerous well known clubs of the country, Gouramangi currently plays for Churchill Brothers as a centre back. Gouramangi has won nearly every club tournaments in India playing for separate clubs.
He has won the federation with both Dempo (2004-5) and Mahindra United (2005-6) and the National football league with Dempo in 2004-5.
He has also won the I-league with Churchill brothers in 2009 and was also adjudged the best defender of the season. In 2003, Gouranmangi captained the U-18 national side which had won the Ian Rush trophy.
In his debut for the Indian national senior side in 2007, the team won the Nehru Cup International in New Delhi. He has five international goal to his name.
At 6 ft 1in, Gouramangi is one of the tallest football players in the country.
Q) Anything you would like to tell about yourself, may be your childhood and about the clubs you have played and playing for now?
A) Guess it’s not the best thing to talk about yourself, briefly for your information: I started playing with DMRAO awang sekmai just for fun in the evening as any other kids does after school, it was a great feeling to represent my school (Manipur Public School) in the year 1998 if am not mistaken, we participated in the North East CBSE school meet in Itanagar. Then the real football journey started from the year 2000 when i got selected to the Tata Football Academy, Jamshedpur. Spent a long and important four years in the TFA till 2004. Started my club career after that – 1st club Mohan Bagan but went on loan to Dempo the same season and remained there almost the entire the season, 2nd club Mahindra United, 3rd club Sporting club de Goa, 4th is Churchill Brothers since 2007 till today.
Q)What do you think is the present and future of football in the state?
A) Undoubtedly Football is still the number one sports in our state, thanks to the many generations of players before us. The football fraternity in the country highly talks about us and appreciates the fact that we are one of the best footballing state in the country who had in the past and is producing numbers of good players. But the impression in the current scenerio is change which is unfortunate and sad. Let’s together face the fact and the truth that we are no longer considered to be among the top 3/4 footballing states in country whether we like it or not. We are losing our place in the national team and clubs, No doubt we still have hundreds of players playing out of the state in various clubs across the country and many employed with the government offices.
The question is – are we playing the lead roles in our jobs like many of our seniors in the past used to? NO.
So my question is – Are we compromising the quality for the quantity???
Q) Why do you think that local clubs of the state are unable to make it to the I-league?
A) Note : If you look at top clubs in Europe or Asia or any other part of the world, football clubs is not run anymore just out of passion or for the love of the game. Football clubs now is entirely a business entity, that is why FIFA and AFC is putting the utmost effort to bring the change in India, how to run a club.
Frankly, it’s just that we have not found yet in our state someone with the equal passion and interest of personalities like Mr.Vijay Mallya, Mr.Churchill Alemao. Mr.Dempo, Mr.Salgaocar and all the owners of the respective I-league clubs. What i mean is it’s very expensive to run and sustain a club in today’s time. Still in india the clubs are run only out of passion.
Q) Is there any visible difference in the players training in the state and outside the state, what is the main difference?
A) I dont think so i will be the right person to comment on this since I have never trained or played in a top club in Manipur.
Q) Would you like to play for any local club if given the chance?
A) I would love to, never know I might one day.
Q) What can the state do to promote the game in the state and bring out more players from the state?
A) Besides AMFA`s development programes, i think we the entire state need a hell lot of work to do because other states have gone far ahead of us in terms of everything.
To begin with first we need a tremendous support and interest from the state government, keeping in mind the limited resource and funds the respective clubs have.
Success of clubs will be the future of our state.
Q) What is one thing that you enjoy while playing football?
A) There is no specific, I just enjoy playing football whether it is during training or a match.
Q) What inspires you to play football?
A) I dont know coz i had never planned to become a football player, but i remember i enjoyed playing football as much as any other kid does after school; to go out at the nearby field and play and run around with the other fellow kids. And today here I am playing for Churchill brothers and the Indian team.
Q) What has been the best and most memorable play you have accomplished in your career as a football player?
A) There is a lot but winning the AFC Challenge Cup in Delhi and qualifying for the Asian Cup in Doha are moments to cherish.
Q)Anything you would like to share with the kids who look up to you and get motivation from you to play football?
A) Keep working hard to the very best you can, try always to do the right things for that you need to know or keep asking to yourself or the seniors whether what you are doing is right or wrong, it can be on and off the pitch.