SINGAPORE: Past stays past. But as memories, they always stay the present. Post dinner on Saturday (October 13) late evening, the squad gathered in the Meeting Room of the Team Hotel which is adjacent to Singapore’s ‘Little India.’
The lights were switched off, the projector switched on. With most having landed after a long hectic flight schedule, the projector didn’t bring forward any analysis. Rather, it took all to a trip down memory lane – a video presentation on the Nehru Cup.
The memories came back; the boys whispered among themselves; sometimes even giggled and at last felt proud with the visuals showing them lifting the Nehru Cup. The lights were thereafter, switched on.
“Let’s come back to the present. The Nehru Cup is past. Let’s close that chapter. Results of the past stay no guarantee for the future. As players you need to carry that experience with you, but it’s gone. Never talk of it but keep it close to your heart,” National Coach Wim Koevermans stated.
Words of wisdom; words of reality! There was pin drop silence in the room.
“We are back as a team again – this time far away from India. We are all wearing the National Team shirt and we are here for a common cause. What you all did in the Nehru Cup, you ought to do it again,” Koevermans urged.
The silence prevailed.
Next morning, at the Breakfast Table in Café Shop, in-house guests, mostly Indians, came up and posed with the National Team Players. The other guests too stayed curious and walked up to the players to chat with them.
“All of us play for different clubs but the pride of playing for the National Team is something different. It’s impossible to explain it,” Denzil Franco uttered at the Massage Table as masseur Liaqat Ali’s nimble fingers rejuvenated him. Fitness Trainer Pradip Datta, watched. “International matches stay the benchmark to judge yourself as a player. Hence, we all forward to it,” Denzil added.
Lenny Rodrigues was the next to hit the massage table. “The Coach always motivates us,” a shy Lenny quips. “He’s always there by your side. I owe a lot to him,” he adds.
Lenny stayed one of the discoveries of the Nehru Cup. “I have just begun my career. I tried to play to my best in the Nehru Cup and it’s for the Coach and others to judge me. All I can say is that I am a confident player now,” he goes on. “In fact, I am a more confident person.”
“I’m a much more matured player now,” stopper Raju Gaikwad observed. “There’s always someone to support you in this National squad. But there’s so much still to achieve,” he maintains. “We need to learn the lessons and put it into practice in every sphere of life.”
The beauty of the present squad stays the conglomeration of youth and experience. There’s not much of an age-difference between the players making it easy for all to mingle with all.
With Francis Fernandes, Karanjit Singh and Joaquim Abranches joining all at the Lunch Table, the Coach couldn’t have been more pleased. “Boys, we have a video session in the evening and as I had told you, we will be leaving for practice after that,” Koevermans informed.
The Indian Team will be practicing at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium, the venue for the Match from 7pm.
By Nilanjan Datta,
AIFF Media Team