Professional football is a tough job. It's a never-ending cycle of training, travelling and playing. But this process becomes a way of life for professional footballers, something which, when interrupted, could prove to be quite frustrating. The same has been the case for India and Jamshedpur FC midfielder Amarjit Singh Kiyam.
The year 2019 was nothing less than spectacular for the midfielder from Manipur. The 18-year-old who captained India in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017 saw his stock rise at a sharp rate last year. Newly appointed national coach Igor Stimac gave the youngster his debut after taking up the reigns as Amarjit soon made the defensive midfielder spot his own. However, catastrophe struck just ahead of the start of India's 2022 World Cup qualifiers campaign, as he got injured in training, with his broken hand keeping him out of action so far.
However, the good news is that he is back in training. He found himself on the bench against Odisha FC and could soon see himself making his ISL debut.
"It has been frustrating to some extent. I was not able to train because of my injury. I missed not travelling with the team, the matchday feel," Amarjit told Firstpost. "But I am feeling good now that I have resumed training after four months. Being on the pitch is a great feeling. I am close to returning to action. Injuries are part and parcel of the game. All I need to do is to keep calm and focus on my rehabilitation."
Amarjit, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad belong to a young bunch who are expected to be the mainstay of Indian football in this new decade, but the close followers of the game will know that while Shahal and Anriudh might be the mutual fund, capable of delivering big but not without a degree of risk involved, Amarjit is like an insurance policy which is guaranteed of delivering. And the last two years have been the testament of that fact. Amarjit making lung-bursting runs, mopping-up any mess made by defensive errors has been a common theme of his football journey.
His consistency as a footballer while playing for India in U-17 World Cup, Indian Arrows in I-League made him the first player to be born after 2000 to play in the senior team.
"Maybe you will see tears in my eyes. That's how important Amarjit is," Stimac was clear with his words as to what the midfielder meant to him after he got injured and that only underlines his importance to the team.
And tears, figuratively, it was for India in the qualifiers. While India were faced with tough away fixtures, the lack of resolute in the India midfield and backline led to a string of disappointing results.
On a personal note, the last two years have been "surreal" for the midfielder. "The last two years have been incredible. I have been playing regularly since the U-17 World Cup, first in I-League then for the Indian national side. I have been consistently ascending the ladder of growth and it has been surreal."
One of the most impressive aspects of Amarjit's game is his awareness. Being present at the right place in the right moment could have a big say in the outcome of a match and Amarjit knows what is important in order to achieve that.
"My aim is always to match the expectation of the coach. To execute the instruction to perfection. I always focus hard during team meetings to know exactly what the coach needs. If required, I also speak to other players for clarity. And these things help me a lot on the pitch as well. And that's something coaches like a lot, if we are able to translate their words into action on the field."
And there's no doubt Stimac likes him a lot but it's also the other way around. Apart from being thankful to the Croatian for giving him his debut, he's quite impressed with his philosophy.
"Stimac is a very nice coach. He encourages us a lot and is always ready to give an opportunity to young players like Anwar Ali, Narender Gahlot. It's not as if he would not look at you because of your lack of experience. He picks his team on form.
"India were doing very well before Stimac's arrival as well but with Stimac, the fact is that he wants us to play good football on the pitch. But he also wants to win. The demand is to play good football and win at the same time."
Apart from his consistent and tireless performances, Amarjit has also made a mark as a leader in his nascent career so far. He was picked as the captain for the U-17 side by his teammates and continued to be the skipper for Indian Arrows side. He was also seen, after India's match against Syria, leading the chants for the team after they secured a hard-fought draw in Intercontinental Cup. It was a small act which spoke big things about the character of a young player.
2⃣0⃣1⃣7⃣: Led 🇮🇳 in FIFA U-17 World Cup
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) July 16, 2019
Amarjit, however, says what we see on the pitch is much different to how he's in real life. An introvert is how he says he will describe himself but most importantly he doesn't forget to add that he understands the importance of leadership roles.
"This (captaincy) is completely opposite to my nature. I am pretty shy by nature but things have turned out to be pretty different for me and I am happy. When I was part of the U-17 team, the management encouraged me to take the command. My seniors, family members also speak to me about how important and valuable it's to be a leader. I have also started reading some books on leadership. I want to grow as a leader. Very few people get the opportunity to be leader of pack, so I feel proud of what I have done and want to improve more."
And apart from books, there are many amongst his colleagues and idols who have inspired the leader in Amarjit.
"There are many players that I look forward to. I don't have a specific person that I look up to but it's obvious that I follow Sunil Chhetri. From Manipur, Gouramangi Singh, Renedy Singh remain my inspiration. In European football, I always looked up to Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, John Terry. I have picked up something from everyone."
Only 18, Amarjit has the time and talent to conquer bigger things. The son of a farmer, Amarjit always saw football as his calling. His mother sold fish to battle the hardships of life and support Amarjit in his venture. Now it is time for him to aim for those bigger things and Amarjit has his plans drawn.
"I want to become one of the best players in India in the coming years. That's my goal and if I also get the opportunity, I would like to play in overseas leagues as well."
The focus for now, however, is on making a successful comeback after the injury hiatus. With eight more games still left for Jamshedpur in the ISL, Amarjit hopes to slowly become a regular feature for the club as they aim to reach the playoffs.
"The environment at the club is very good. It's great to play with overseas players, they have a lot of experience and they help us also improve our game. It's extremely difficult to fit straight into a team after being out injured for so long, but the focus is on making small progress.
"Whatever action I get from now on will be a great opportunity because I have been out of action for long. We have got a great team, so getting into the team won't be easy. But I am trying my best. The club is focused on making it to the playoffs. We will give our all for it."
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Updated Date: Jan 02, 2020 18:32:43 IST