There was a bit of gloom in the morning weather. The overnight rain had left its mark and the fog added to the chill. At the Heritage School Campus in Gurgaon, the Barcelona Camp organised by Conscient Football, it was different.
Indian National Team players who landed in the Capital for the Audi Football Summit – the Exhibition Match against Bayern Munich, lit up the proceedings. They had an interactive session with the 180 odd kids and then played with them. The football seemed to be fun yet an unique opportunity for the kids to look upto and learn from their idols from close.
The energy of the five-man army — Climax Lawrence, Gourmangi Singh, Clifford Miranda, Jeje Lalpekhlua was infectious. Even as the queue for autographs seemed to have no end, they smilingly obliged all.
The duo of Jeje and Sabeeth, both of whom have been together for the U-23 Olympic Qualifiers, just couldn’t wait to get on the field against the Bayern Munich side.
“This is a life-time opportunity for us,” Jeje said. “International Scheduling in Football doesn’t permit one to get on the same field against such renowned clubs. But here we are playing against Bayern Munich,” Jeje who turned 20 on Saturday, expressed.
“All of them are International Stars. The entire footballing fraternity will be keeping a close eye on the match,” he added.
“We speak of Exposure Tours every alternate minute. Can any Tour get bigger than this?” Sabeeth, putting on his boots, quipped. “I’m lucky to be in the squad for this match. It’s for us to learn, the more the better for us,” Sabeeth joined in.
The duo hasn’t yet played together with Bhaichung Bhutia and that it makes all the more significant for them. “Bhaichung has been the most deadly Indian striker I have seen,” Sabeeth quipped. “His commitment and his reflexes are a lesson for any young player.”
Jeje added: “It’s fortunate that I get to play with Bhaichung. It’s unfortunate that I won’t ever get a chance to play with him again. He is such a great player.”
“Bhaichung was such an aggressive striker. He always had the ability to put the rival defence under pressure,” Sabeeth maintained.
Gourmangi Singh, a former AIFF Player-of-the-Year feels it’s an honour for him to be playing in Bhaichung’s farewell match. “I have always looked upto him. To be a part of his Farewell Match is indeed an honour for me,” he opined.