Friday , September 30 2022

Chennaiyin FC’s Sajal Bag: The boy from Bengal is here with big dreams!

West Bengal against Kerala in the final of the Santosh Trophy — a dream matchup for Indian football fans. Sajal Bag, Chennaiyin FC’s young midfield recruit, misses from the spot in the penalty shootout and West Bengal go down 4-5.

To Sajal, it appears as if his life has ended. To others, it appears as if his career has. But the 19-year-old is picked up by Chennaiyin FC in the transfer window. And he starts in the first official game of the new campaign against Army Red FT in the Durand Cup on August 20.

“I was quite broken after that (Santosh Trophy loss) emotionally. I was contemplating whether I’ll get to play or not. Because due to me, Bengal didn’t win a trophy. That time was quite hard on me.”

“But I thank everybody that has supported me so far. Everyone has supporters and non-supporters. I do too. And I thank both of them. There are people that didn’t believe in me and left my side, and maybe that is why I’m here. I thank them,” Sajal tells trying to put into perspective the emotions and reactions that he was engulfed by.

After having started at Avenue Sammilani club as a budding footballer, he joined Durbar Sports Academy. The U-15 nationals came next, from where he was given a chance to play for Mohun Bagan U-15. He made his jump to Mohun Bagan’s U-18 team, playing in the Calcutta Football League before turning out for BSS Sporting. Then came the Santosh Trophy followed by his move to the big league with Chennaiyin FC. It was surreal he says.

“It feels very nice. Before coming here, I never thought I’d be here, never thought I’d be given the opportunity. When I got the opportunity, it felt very nice. Making my debut for Chennaiyin FC is the happiest moment of my footballing career so far,” Sajal exclaimed.

He was not victorious in his debut game and Sajal acknowledges that he must do more. Chennaiyin FC drew 2-2 against Army Red in their Durand Cup opener. After mounting a late comeback, the Marina Machans conceded in injury time and the spoils were shared.

“When we were up by one goal, we made a mistake and it was a 2-2 draw. We played well, but there were a few mistakes. Personally, I could do better in the upcoming match, I’ll play better,” promised Sajal.

Taking us back to where it all began for Sajal, we go to his village Chamurat, “In my childhood, I used to play the game a lot in my hometown, from the age of 10 or 12 on the streets in Kolkata with my friends. I used to play bare foot in the ground next to my house. After that, I bought football boots. After I got the boots, I started practicing more and decided that I wanted to play professionally.”

“Even my family loves the sport. There was no pressure. They just wanted me to choose a good profession. There was a lot of support from my family.”

Sajal Bag knows that a lot is expected from him. And he expects a lot from himself as well. After all, he idolises Lionel Messi.

“I love Messi and I’m crazy for him. I cried so much when Argentina lost that World Cup final against Germany. When Messi came to India, I was quite small and couldn’t go. But I saw him on TV. I didn’t have enough money to go and see him. But I love his determination to go after the ball at the 90th minute and I love how much he expects from himself. I do too,” says Sajal.

We’ll end with Sajal’s ambitions as simply as he puts it:

“I love football and I want to make it a career because football is a sport that can give me everything. I don’t know anything else. I want to play for the Indian team.”

This season will be a big one for the boy from Bengal with big dreams. And we’re one of his supporters.

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