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Football

Once a World Cup player, this goalkeeper-turned-auto driver now looks for a job

Arindam Ghoshal, the goalkeeper in India's team at the 2010 Homeless World Cup, can be spotted driving an auto in Kolkata's suburbs these days.

Once a World Cup player, this goalkeeper-turned-auto driver now looks for a job
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Arindam Ghoshal in his auto (Inset: A picture of his Brazil visa dating back to 2010)

By

Rajdeep Saha

Published: 26 Dec 2022 3:02 PM GMT

Madhyamgram: As the dust settles after what has been a historic FIFA World Cup, the majority of West Bengal is still reeling in joy at Argentina's victory. The other half shed tears in the late hours of 9th December, when Croatia knocked Brazil out of the competition. Madhyamgram local and auto driver Arindam Ghoshal was part of this half.

Being a fan of the Selecao Canarinho since childhood, he was heartbroken after his team's exit. However, how many can boast of representing the country in a World Cup in Brazil? Ghoshal can.

The goalkeeper was in between the sticks for India in the 2010 edition of the Homeless World Cup. One would expect that being a World-Cupper, whatever category it may be in, would have picked him out of the abject poverty he was previously swimming in.


Arindam in front of his rented house with his mother

Unfortunately, things have remained the same for Ghoshal. He still lives in his dimly lit house on the suburbs of the city. He wakes up at the crack of dawn to drive his auto from the Madhyamgram Chowrasta to Katakhal, earning Rs 200-300 daily. As for his ambitions in football, all that remains are local khep matches, which provide unreliable income.

"Even back when I played the World Cup, if my father didn't go to work one day, we couldn't eat. Football was never my source of income," Ghoshal said.

From press conferences with Chhetri to life of a destitute

Ghoshal had high aspirations for football, but when he landed in the land of Pele, Kaka, and co. in 2010, he was handed a reality check. The West Bengal boy was determined to play well at the Homeless World Cup, but India were just not good enough.


Arindam with the footprint of Kaka in Brazil

"Our first game was against South Africa and they were miles ahead of us. Moreover, many nations and even the referees were surprised and sardonic when they saw India playing football," Ghoshal recalled.

Nonetheless, those days, more than a decade ago, were the peak of the goalie's life, both personally and professionally.

"At a party filled with sporting personalities in 2011, I was invited as a guest. I even gave a press conference with the likes of Sunil Chhetri, Leander Paes, Baretto and others. Those were some good times for me," he narrated sorrowfully.

From that to living the life of a destitute, the player now has only his auto-rickshaw and the rare prospect of khep. Having taken over the role of being the sole breadwinner of his family since the death of his father, the 30-year-old Ghoshal takes a philosophical view of his football past.

"Kobe mangsho diye bhaat khecho, keu gondho shunkbe na (Nobody will remember when you had meat to go with your rice)," he said.

Ghoshal's ambitions were stopped in their tracks by a severe injury in 2012. His patella, also known as malaichaki in Bengali, had broken into three pieces. To this day, the pieces remain held together with a wire.

"I feel if it wasn't for this injury, my career in football would have been much better. I can't even operate and pull out the wire as that might make me bedridden," he said.

'A regular job would solve my problems'

It was in 2018 that Ghoshal decided to take up driving an auto to start earning his daily sustenance. The pandemic bore heavier on him as even the local tournaments stopped drawing large crowds.

Nowadays, he wakes up every day at around 5:30 am, drives his auto till around 11 am along the Ganga Nagar Road and comes back home to wait for evening, when he ventures out to practice his catches and roll-outs.


Arindam continues to play in the goal at local tournaments (Khep)

"I usually earn about 200-300 rupees daily through my auto. The world of khep is pretty unpredictable as the money only comes if you enter the final. We don't even know when the local matches will happen next," he said.

Despite having lost connection with his 2010 teammates, Ghoshal would often hear through the grapevine that someone got a police job, or someone got something else. His chance never came.

"I have filled some forms here and there but never get a reply. I would be set if I could just land a regular job," he pleaded.

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