| Pulak Goswami (right) addresses the news conference on Friday. Picture by UB Photos |
March 1: The odds will be stacked against their strike line when Green Valley Sports Club, the only club from the city, lock horns with Aizawl FC in their campaign opener of the 2nd division I-League at Indore on March 9.
Handicapped partially at the eleventh hour after key striker Chayaram Basumatary deserted the club for a job with NF Railway, the men in green and white will take the field for the second time in the qualifiers for the apex professional football league of the country this time. They were the only team in the country who finished unbeaten in a six-match qualifying round at Silchar last year. Green Valley had won a match and settled for draws in five matches in their debut season in professional football.
“It will, however, not be the same conditions in Indore. We will not only miss the home advantage like last year but also the sting in the forward line in the absence of Chayaram, as his replacement O. Taiwo Sayo is partially unfit. The wings are also an area of concern. Though we have signed seven new faces, they did not get enough practice as a team because of lack of ground. Some of them were playing in the Santosh Trophy,” chief coach Shankar Moitra said.
The outfit, which will leave here on Sunday, used to practise at the Sarusajai Sports Complex during the final phase of the camp.
Club president Pulak Goswami this afternoon unveiled the outfit’s new jersey, minus his “favourite” jersey No 13 — the one Chayaram used to wear. “We have no dearth of talent. My instruction was that the team should comprise 70 per cent of local players at any point of time. But, it is lack of professionalism among our local players that they have not been able to rise to the level they actually deserve,” Goswami said.
He, however, admired exceptions like Durga Boro who left Oil India Ltd job to play for Churchill Brothers and was “earning more money, prospects and honour”.
“If Durga could take the risk of leaving OIL for professional football, why can’t our other talented players like Chayaram, Holicharan Narzary and others opt for professional club football for better prospects rather than looking for jobs in Indian Railways where they are used merely to play in the inter-railway meet?” Goswami asked. He added that the Railways could also allow their players to appear for bigger clubs for career growth.
Veteran organiser and GSA president Rana Goswami, however, reasoned that the players often have to opt for the job as an option “because our football at the club level is yet to become pure professional”.
“I salute Green Valley SC for the initiative. But, there is hardly any other option for our players when they want to look for options. It will be professional only when few more clubs come up like they do in Shillong,” he said.