Manipur is known for its love for the beautiful game of football. Every young football player dreams of playing in a club and for the national team. Seiminlen Doungel had the same dream. He worked hard to manifest it into reality and become a professional footballer. Ahead of the ISL (Indian Super League) season, FC Goa’s new addition talks to NT NETWORK
Danuska Da Gama | NT NETWORK
Known as ‘Len’ in Indian footballing circles, the man from Manipur possesses the ability to play across the forward line. Doungel adds both depth as well as competition in the forward ranks for FC Goa. With persistent hard work and determination, he paved his way to success. He has now scored a two-year contract with FC Goa. Doungel began his professional career with East Bengal before going on to play for Pailan Arrows, Shillong Lajong and Bengaluru FC in the I-League. He has earlier represented North East United FC, Delhi Dynamos and Kerala Blasters FC in the Indian Super League.
Excerpts from the interview.
Q. How does it feel being signed by FC Goa for the next two years?
It feels great to sign with FC Goa for the next two years. I feel it is an important step for my career and development. I look forward to joining my teammates very soon and hope to lift the ISL trophy during my stint at FC Goa.
Q. How did your love for the game come into being?
Manipur has always been a keen football-playing state. Each kid gets introduced to the game through some way or the other at a very early age. As children, when we start playing, it is our dream to become professional footballers and play for India one day.
Q. You’ve played with BFC, DDFC, NEUFC and KBFC. What pushed you to make the move to FC Goa?
My journey with each team has been different, one where I learnt different things along the way, on and off the pitch. I have always enjoyed playing in Goa when I used to travel for away games and now when the opportunity came, I didn’t have to think too much. FC Goa has been performing consistently well over the past few seasons which shows in their results and the way they play. Also, FC Goa fans are very passionate and create an atmosphere which makes the game even more exciting. I believe FC Goa will help me push beyond my limit and I hope to give my best both for the club and the fans.
Q. Accomplishing huge milestones at the young age of 25, what has been the highlight or the turning point in your football journey?
Coming back into the fray after a long term injury, I was drafted to NEUFC in the 2017-18 season. I worked harder than ever in the pre-season. Even though we did not have a good season, I took every game as an opportunity to perform for the team and learn as much as I could from the game. From a personal point of view, that season was very rewarding for me as I received a Senior National Team call-up as well as earned a move to Kerala Blasters FC.
Q. It’s important to strategise during a game to achieve the best results, how do you apply your own technique and strategise at the same time?
The overall strategy is always decided by the head coach and we as a team have to follow his plan to achieve the best results. There are moments in the game where we have to take decisions on our own and we have to try as much as we can to make sure that our decisions do not compromise the overall strategy of the team. Whenever we get the opportunity to apply our own natural abilities, we have to keep in mind that it does not negatively affect that moment of play.
Q. Win or lose, what have you learnt from your fellow mates playing in the field for ISL?
At the end of every season, there can only be one winner and as professional players, we all want to be that winner. So each time we take to the field, giving our best is the only thing on our minds. Football is a team game and it is important for all players to stick to the coach’s plan.
Q. It’s not easy being a national player. How do you deal with rejection or insecurity?
Again, only a few players can represent the country and rejection should be taken as a motivator to work harder every day till we get the next call-up. Highs and lows are a part and parcel of being a footballer. What matters the most is how you get back up and continue the journey. Exposure and experience from an early stage in our lives naturally teaches us how to face challenges and take whatever positives that we can.
Q. Who is your favourite Indian and International player?
Sunil Chettri and Lionel Messi.