Kochi: Lalruatthara still does not know the reason why he was thrown out of the Chandigarh Football Academy.
Hailing from Champari, a small district in Mizoram located close to the Myanmar border, he left home for Chandigarh at the age of 13, with dreams of making it big in the beautiful game. Though he cleared the skill and physical fitness tests required to get enrolled in the academy, the authorities turned him away for unknown reasons.
The youngster was shattered by the harsh treatment meted out to him by the academy officials. That rejection, which could have ended his footballing career, however, made him stronger and spurred him achieve his goals. He got back to the pitch and trained hard, realizing that he could make something of himself if he did full justice to his talent.
Eventually, the football world sat up and took notice of his exemplary skills when Aizawl FC emerged I-League champions last year.
The 22-year-old defender, a great fan of former Manchester United center back Nemanja Vidic, was snapped up by Kerala Blasters for the fourth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL). The talented youngster made an immediate impact at his new club as he was adjudged the emerging player in three of the six matches Blasters have played so far this season.
Lalruatthara, who is now knocking the doors of the national team, talks about his inspiring comeback during a free-wheeling chat.
From Chandigarh to Mizoram
“I attended the selection trials conducted by the Chandigarh Football Academy in 2009. Though I did well in the trials and cleared even the final medical and fitness tests, the academy officials refused to take me in. They did not cite any specific reason for sending me away. I left the place with my heart broken. But my passion for football never left me. The Subroto Cup win with Mizoram in the U-17 category was a turning point in my career. The Mizoram Premier League, launched in 2012, provided the springboard I needed to make it to the top. I was just 17 when I made my debut in the league. In 2013, I joined Chanmari FC, who went on to win the second edition of the Mizoram Premier League. Soon, I received a call-up to the state team. I was a member of the Mizoram side which won the Santosh Trophy in 2014.
Stint at Aizawl FC
It was Aizwal FC which helped me grow as a professional footballer. When it became the first club from the north-east to win the premier football competition of the country, the careers of all the team members also received a big boost. For me, Aizwal FC was not just another club because it was a bonding, like family. All of us were very close to each other and we all enjoyed our game. I have fond memories of the time I spent at the club.
Life at Kerala Blasters
As far as passion for football is concerned, Keralites are just as crazy as people of Mizoram. The only thing I miss here is my family. I was signed by Delhi Dynamos in the last ISL season, but did not play a single game. Luckily, I got the chance to play every match this year. Being an ardent supporter of Manchester United, I grew up watching Dimitar Berbatov and Wes Brown. Playing alongside these legends is a great learning experience. It is a great honor indeed to be a part of this Blasters squad.
Comparisons with Sandesh Jinghan
I don’t think I can play like him. He has the ability to excel at any position. I’m more comfortable in playing as a left-back. I’m also capable of making occasional forays through the wing. I believe there is scope for improvement in my game. The professional approach to the game and training at Blasters is helping me hone my skills. Donning the national colors is my ultimate aim. I just hope that I play for India someday.