EXCLUSIVE: Playing at Mohun Bagan will always be a milestone for me, says Nongdamba Naorem
In an exclusive interaction, Nongdamba Naorem speaks about his loan stint, his experience from the I-League triumph and more. Following are excerpts:
The All India Football Federation (AIFF), on Saturday, officially declared Mohun Bagan as the champions of the 2019-20 season of I-League. With this came the second I-League title for the century-old Kolkata giants who are all set to enter the Indian Super League (ISL) next season.
On this occasion, The Bridge got in a candid chat with Nongdamba Naorem, one of the emerging players for Bagan this season. The 20-year-old attacking midfielder joined the Green and Maroons from Kerala Blasters on a loan stint. He was a regular in Kibu Vicuna’s starting XI through the season as he continued to showcase his sheer dominance and calibre in the midfield.
Naorem is one of those players in the Bagan squad who made a difference on the field. The Manipur-born lad, who has previously represented India in the U-17 world Cup, speaks about his loan stint, his experience from the I-League triumph and more. Following are excerpts:
The Bridge: So Naorem, how are you spending this lockdown break?
Naorem: I am spending these days with some home workouts and watching films and web series. After a long time, I have got a break to read some books and so utilizing the time to its fullest and it’s definitely a quality time with my family.
The Bridge: This was your first time in Kolkata and you have won the league in your first tenure. How has been your time here at the City of joy and how do you feel about the success?
Naorem: I think it’s a privilege form me to play for a club like Mohun Bagan. It is one of the biggest clubs in India and the Kolkata giants and their role in the Indian Footballing history is immense, so I think I am lucky enough to play for Mohun Bagan and win the I-League in the same season. Besides this season here at Kolkata have been great for me I have been able to play most of the games and by god’s grace I have done pretty well on the field. So for me it’s a pretty good experience at Kolkata as I take it as a step forward in my career from this nice city. The atmosphere here is brilliant. I think I will not be able to get such a kind of stadium ambiance in my life again, playing in the derby has been the greatest feeling for me and winning the league with such crazy and passionate football fans is really enjoyable. This has been a life time experience for me here at Kolkata.
The Bridge: So next season you will be playing for Blasters and Kibu Vicuna will continue to be your coach. Do you think this will be an added advantage for you to perform on the field?
Naorem: I can’t take it as an advantage rather it’s a privilege for me as the coach understands me well and he will continue with me at Kerala. It doesn’t mean that I was his player in Mohun Bagan and I will continue to be in the starting XI next year. I have to face a lot of competition at Kerala Blasters cause there are a lot of better players than me, my friends like Rahul KP is their they are not less than me. They are rather better than me. It’s a good thing form me but I can’t be sitting around and I need to continue working hard to get in to the team.
Spanish coaches has always been a blessing for me, whenever I have played under a Spanish coach my game has improved and I have done well. In my U-16 days at Minerva it was Jose Amia who helped me a lot improve my game and after coming to Mohun Bagan coach Kibu helped me again to bring out the best game. He taught me how to be mature on the field and for me he is one of the best coaches right now.
The Bridge: This season came out to be historic for Mohun Bagan as it’s their second I-league triumph and you won the league with four marches still left. What are the factors according to you that lead to such a brilliant brand of football?
Naorem: It’s the credit of the whole team starting from the coach, the players, the support staffs and the management. It's not only a single man who made this happen, it’s the common effort from everyone that lead to this success. How our coach managed the players and their performances on and off the field and how the medical staffs, physio and the kit persons helped us are the key factors that lead to this glory. All through the season the spirit was very high in the dressing room as we lived as a team which I think is the main reason we could win the title.
The Bridge: What are the things that you have learned or have experienced here at your loan stint at Bagan that you think will be helpful in your future?
Naorem: After coming to Mohun Bagan I learned a lot of things on an off the field and the most important is I became more matured than before and it’s the major thing that will help me all through my life. Till now there has few milestones in my career and this season in Mohun Bagan will surely be the latest after representing India in the World Cup and scoring my first goal in I-League for Arrows.
The Bridge: Where do you see yourself in the upcoming years?
Naorem: I don’t know as I really can’t say about my future. The thing that I can assure is I will continue working hard while playing for any club or national team. I always try to bring out the best in me and improve day by day, the rest is not in my hand. I will try to provide my best for Kerala Blasters next season as I hope to get into the National Team.