CHENNAI: Amarjit Singh Kiyam’s journey so far has been a dream for any youngster aspiring to play professional football. From captaining the Indian team at the U-17 FIFA World Cup to making senior team debut this year, his career path has been on the rise. The midfielder is the first player born in this century to don the colours of the Blue Tigers and he has already won the trust of national coach Igor Stimac. While all of it sounds great when said in that order, Amarjit has vivid recollections of the tough times he endured to get there.
He might have handled his transformation from the younger sides to the senior team smoothly. But the road he took was not the smoothest. “When I first trained with the Chandigarh Football Academy, I barely knew the language to communicate with teammates. It’s funny now. But at that time, coming from a small village in Manipur, it was a big deal. I have to thank my parents and my brother especially for what I have become,” he said.
While the youngster appeared as a substitute against Curacao in the King’s Cup in June, his performance made Stimac start him against Thailand in the third-place play-off. Despite what he has achieved in such a short span with the senior team, he still gets asked about how it was during the U-17 World Cup. And while he is happy to have played a part in history, he wants to move on. “I couldn’t believe it when I got selected for the U-17 World Cup. It was an unreal experience. But that is over. Now I have to keep thinking about the senior team and how to play in a senior World Cup.”
Amarjit is open to learning. And that is the kind of mentality he sees in the dressing room, in players like Sunil Chhetri. They are humble despite their stature and Amarjit is relishing that they don’t treat him differently. “All the seniors are supportive. There’s no negativity.”
While his confidence has increased because of the faith the coach has in him, he feels there is still a long way to go. India are in a tough Group E with Bangladesh, Oman, Afghanistan and Qatar for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. While there is still time before the first match against Oman next month, Amarjit is thinking about how to give his best.
“The focus is completely on the qualifiers. If we play from the heart, we may surprise many. Right now, there is no camp. But there are always discussions on tactics and other information through WhatsApp or something.”