To be one in the five
When Rohit Suresh finished college in April, he could be forgiven for considering a future away from his passion – football. But as it turned out, he was selected for the inaugural season of the Premier Futsal League serving as backup goalkeeper for Chennai 5s. He was one of only five Indians in the team.
Rohit was thrilled with the experience of being amongst world famous names. Starting off as a winger in seventh standard, Rohit now believes that the game his elder brother helped him fall in love with, might just be a feasible livelihood. “Injecting glamour into non cricketing games is essential. We are obsessed with just one sport and it is doing us more bad than good,” he says. He also believes that getting big names from the game is a ploy that will be effective in the long run.
Like Rohit, many Indian players aspire to benefit by getting to play alongside and receiving training from the best around the world. The teams in Premier Futsal had big names on their roster like Ryan Giggs, Hernan Crespo, Paul Scholes, Ronaldinho, Cafu, Michael Salgado, and others as their marquee players. The Chennai 5s team boasted of five time winner of the FIFA World’s Best Futsal Player award, Falcao, a Brazilian national. The format, which is sometimes explained as the “T20 of football” to novices in India, debuted in the frantic after-void of football cravings that the Euros left this summer.
The young goalkeeper was contemplating a ‘regular’ job and a lifetime of loving the game only in leisure but the emergence of Premier Futsal has given hope to aspiring players to make a career out of the game they love playing. On asked if the timing of the selections and the tournament seemed miraculous, he said, “Yes of course, I was lucky in that sense but only so far. I like to look back at the amount of hard work I have put in to get here. Even if I was not selected this season, I would have tried next year.” With trials for selections into the team, the reserves remain enthusiastic even after the rigours of getting selected in a group of six from the over two hundred aspirants who turned up.
Play time was rare, but the Liverpool fan believes strongly that it was only natural given the quality of the first-choice goalkeeper, repeatedly exclaiming “he is a hundred times better”. For now, he is exalted by the quality of training he has been receiving and all talks of the future is, sincerely and almost delightfully, diverted to “I want to just keep learning more”.
Rohit, however, just could not stop talking about meeting Ronaldinho. “It was like meeting God you know. I could not talk to him because I do not know Portuguese, but it is impossible to complain really,” he exclaimed. It remains to be seen if aspirants like Rohit can keep playing the game for a living with the emergence of professional leagues like Premier Futsal.
Edited by Anirban Paul