A good defender of the ball

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  • Published 8.08.14

Many of the older students of Santragachhi Kedarnath Institution still speak proudly of Rabin Das, their ace footballer, who later went on to play in the senior Indian football team in the mid 1970s. He had, however, played only one exhibition match against Pakistan in Kabul. He made headlines that year when he goaled the ball from 35 yards. Gurdev Singh was captain at that time. Rabin Das was the pride of Santragachhi when he played for the national team and most of his friends still remember him for his performance.

Rabin started his football career in school when he joined the school football team as a young boy. “Being associated with sports came naturally to me because I belonged to a family of sportsmen. My cousin brother, Lakshmikanta Das was an Olympic weightlifter and he was our idol. There was a field adjacent to our house in Santragachhi and I would play football on that ground all the time,” said Rabin.

He was a good defender. When he was in Class IX, Rabin left Santragachhi Kedarnath Institution and joined Akshay Shikshayatan at Howrah Maidan.“The school had a very good football team and because I was playing well at that time, I was selected in the school team. I was selected to play Subrata Cup for Akshay Shikshayatan that year and the school was joint winner that year,” said Rabin. After that, he played Subrata Cup for three years in different parts of India for his school.

From there, Rabin went on to play Bengal School and then Indian School football. In 1971, he went with the Indian school football team to Singapore to play an international football tournament. There too, India emerged joint winners with another country.

Back home, Rabin joined Sporting Union that was playing first division in Calcutta. “Pradeep Banerjee had just started coaching at that time and I started training under him,” said Rabin. He got a job with the Eastern Railways and played for the team. He played Santosh Trophy many times for the Railways and his stint with the Indian football team was also from the Railways. “Playing for Eastern Railways was exciting at that time. Matches between Eastern and South Eastern Railways were like India-Pakistan matches. I played for Eastern Railways when Subrata Bhattacharya was in the team,” said Rabin.

In club football, Rabin’s first contract was with East Bengal in the mid 1970s. “I signed East Bengal right after I returned from Kabul and played one season there. The next year I was playing for Mohammedan Sporting and after that I signed Mohun Bagan,” said Rabin. His football career ended in 1982, as he was forced to give up playing because of job pressure. “I was working with a nationalized bank and I was appointed the chief cashier. I had to reach office by 10am in the morning and would have to stay till 5pm or even later. It became difficult for me to continue playing football at that time,” said Rabin.

Although he was out of touch of football for many years, after retirement, Rabin did start coaching young boys in Howrah. I used to train young footballers at Dumurjala Stadium and at Swamiji Sporting Club. “I do not do any rigorous training but provide tips to young players about how to play well. I also go to a club in Baksara where I train young boys,” said Rabin.

More about rabin

  • DoB: January 15, 1954
  • Born in: Howrah
  • Education: BCom
  • Family: Wife
  • Loves: Playing cards
  • Hates: Lies