CHENNAI: Dilemmas, in the Hemingway-esque fishing village of Thoothoor — an hour away from Kanyakumari — are usually about how safe the sea is. Since January though, they’ve had a different kind of problem to deal with.
Whenever Chennai City FC has a match, frantic phone calls are made to Chennai for team news. They need to know it well in advance, for if one of Raegan Albernas, Michael Regin and Michael Soosairaj are in the 18, an impromptu screening is organised on the beach. In Thoothoor, they don’t like missing their boys in action.
Of the trio, game time for the latter two in the list is cause for wild celebrations in one particular household. Regin and Soosai are brothers, a breed Indian football has not seen too many of. From the legendary Pradip Kumar and Prasun Banerjee pair to goalkeepers Hemanta and Prasanta Dora, Climax and Covan Lawrence and Mohammed Rafi and Shafi, only a few siblings have made it to the top level.
Regin’s and Soosai’s case is unique in that they are two of four siblings to play at a decent level. Their elder brothers Robin and ‘Junior’ Jagan played in the Chennai Senior Division, with Jagan having trotted out in the Santosh Trophy as well. The 28-year-old Regin is the most successful of the lot, having played for Railways for many years now.
“I had a chance to join Bengaluru FC a couple of years back after impressing in a trial,” Regin says. “But that move broke down as Railways would not release me. Now I finally have my chance to impress at the highest level.”
Their father, like most people in Thoothoor, is a fisherman and it was imperative that Regin held on to his Railways job. His experiences have been a valuable lesson, not just for him, but for the 22-year-old Soosai as well. “After he did well in Santosh Trophy, he has been receiving a lot of job offers, but I told him to focus on football. Earning a steady salary is good, but it can hinder your dreams of becoming a professional footballer.”
In return, Soosai is grateful for the guidance he has received from all his brothers, so much so that he has their names tattooed on his arms. “I always looked up to them, especially Jagan, because it was watching them play that made me want to play. In Thoothoor, we have no coaches and we play on a mud ground. They’re the ones from whom I’ve learned how to play.”
This season has seen the brothers take a few fledgeling steps, with Regin starting the win against Mumbai FC and Soosai making a number of appearances off the bench. It is a journey that both hopes will take them to the national team. Brothers playing for India? Now that’d be even rarer!