KOCHI: “Please do something, doctor. Help me recover from this and let me go back to my love,” said Saneesh Babu in tears after the doctor told him to completely forget about football, his lifeline.
Six years later, with his right side partially paralysed, Saneesh - a Thodupuzha native - is working as an Assistant Administrator in the Sports Training Centre at Munnar. He recollects his glorious days on the turf and the fatal accident that put a full stop to his dream career. “I was an active player during college days and participated in junior, sub-junior, state and national levels,” he told Express. “It was on one such inter-university game in 2012 that an opposing player unknowingly kicked my head, injuring my medulla.” He was in a ventilator for a week and later underwent several rounds of treatment, which gave him life but took his love away.
For Saneesh, football was not just a passion or hobby. “I come from a poor background and my father is a daily wage labourer. I wanted to build a career through football and had the confidence,” said Saneesh in a depressing voice. He used to train under Santhosh Trophy player Salimkutty whom he regards as his greatest influence in the game. He was a striking mid-fielder when he played for Kerala University, from where he graduated in the sports quota.
Saneesh mentioned that his friend with whom he collided on that tragic day still feels guilty for the act. “He cried a lot, but I consoled him as it was not a deliberate act. All my football friends have joined various professions,” he said. He noted that the doctor told him there was a blood clot in his right brain, which could gradually disappear. But unfortunately, due to financial crisis, Saneesh is unable to buy the medicines that cost R6,000 per month.
“The clot affects my body from eye to toe and I have a problem with my vision. But the salary I receive can only meet the household needs,” he said. He mentioned there is also a limit to seeking help from others. As Saneesh lives in a small rented house with his parents, he handed over all his trophies and jerseys he owned to kids.
In the midst of all this, Saneesh is quite excited about the World Cup and termed France as his favourite team. As he does not have a TV at home, he noted he would watch the game from office. Keeping his hopes alive, Saneesh wants France to lift the cup. He also hopes to dribble the ball some day.