St. Anthony’s College recently did not just do Meghalaya proud but also entire Northeast region as the football team was invited by Kumning University in China to take part in their cultural programme which included a football tournament. They reached the finals of the tournament only to lose the final match by one goal which was an unfortunate penalty. Here is an exclusive interview with Banpynkhraw Nongkhlaw the Captain of the team who plays as centre back and Bisharlang Kharumnuid who is an attacking mid fielder. Both are in conversation with Jessica Passah and the players expressed their gratitude at being able to represent their college on an international level.
TNT. Give us an introduction. Tell us about yourselves.
BK and BN- My name is Bisharlang Kharumnuid and I am Banpynkhraw Nongkhlaw, the captain of the team who led the boys to China. Both of us are avid football fans and love playing the game although we both come from two different clubs, we play together very well.
TNT. Tell us about your experience and your road from college football to playing in a university in China?
BK and BN- We got an invitation from Kunming University of Science and Technology late in January. They wanted us to participate in the 2nd South and South east Asian Sports and Cultural week. They asked us to showcase our football skills by participating in their football tournament. They even asked us to share part of our culture and heritage and we the team performed the Shad Mastieh and Phawer.
TNT. How was your experience there? Was the level of football anywhere near where you thought it would be there?
BK and BN- It was a good experience for us and to participate at the international event was slightly different from the group stages and from the knockout rounds, it was much easier playing in the group stages but the further we progressed the harder it was to defeat the opposing teams.
TNT. What would you say was the best thing about your trip there? Were there also many other participating universities?
BK and BN- The roads and streets were very clean and the food was good as well .There were 16 other universities that participated in the tournament.
TNT. Meghalaya loves football which is very evident, why did all of you chose football instead of any other sport?
BK and BN- That is because we have started playing football since we were very young kids. The main reason is because people in Shillong love and live football and it’s easier to choose this as the preferred sport because football is everywhere in Shillong. The passion for the game is amazing but this same love for sport is not evident in other sports although there are many people who follow other sports also.
TNT. What was the feeling like when you reached the finals? Did you feel any sort of nervousness before playing the final game?
BK and BN- When we won the semi-final match we all cried with tears of joy as we never expected or imagined reaching the finals in any international event…hehehe! We don’t usually put any pressure on ourselves before any other matches as we play to enjoy the game more often than putting pressure on ourselves.
TNT. One goal separated your team from the winners, how difficult was it playing the winning RUST side?
BK and BN- It was difficult that we conceded a silly goal in the first half and later in the second half they all play with their physical defensive tactics so it was very hard for us to play as they were much taller and more physically stronger and bigger than us but we still didn’t give up. We started playing our own game and played more attacking football in the last 30 minutes where we dominated the game in short passes but luck did not favour us so we have to accept defeat as losing and winning is part of the game.
TNT. With football growing and lots of opportunities coming up with the ISL and I-League, do any of you hope to play football professionally?
BK and BN- Yes, every player football in Shillong and the Northeast dreams of playing in such big events like the ISL and I-League where we can meet so many different types of footballers from all over the world.
TNT. What do you hope your next step will be from here?
The next step is playing here locally with our respective clubs and hoping we will get chances to move on from here to I League or ISL.
TNT. Thank you Banpynkhraw and Bisharlang for speaking to TNT- Northeast Today. You have made us all very proud and we hope your footballing journey continues and we wish you the best in all your future endeavours.
(By Jessica Passah)