New Gokulam Kerala FC signing Deepak Devrani in an interview reveals his ambitions and expectations for the upcoming I-League season!
What are your expectations for the next season with Gokulam Kerala FC?
GKFC is a high performing club with exceptional leadership and management, as well as a huge fan base and sponsors.
The club’s values match my own, especially around non-discrimination. I’m looking forward to being part of the club by supporting all players – including the women’s, junior and grassroot league.
Every time I tie the laces on my football boots my goal is to do my best and better than before. I challenge myself to push my limits physically and mentally to do what needs to be done for the team.
It’s easy to say I never give up, but this really is a philosophy I hold both on and off the pitch. It was never easy for me to get into football, and so every time I walk out into the pitch I do it having learned from struggle and wanting to feel that reward of playing at my best and helping my team to do the same.
Last year you played for TRAU FC and had started most of the matches. Can you describe the experience?
Every new opportunity provides new experiences and learning. I feel honoured to have been part of TRAU FC’s first year in the I-League. I’m proud to have scored their first I-league goal, to have had many clean sheets, and to have helped them reach where we did on the ladder.
It is unfortunate we couldn’t finish all the matches or I didn’t really have the chance in person to fully thank the officials, management, fans, and locals.
It was my first time living in Manipur and it was a great experience. I really thank all the fans there for supporting us. The north-east is known for its athletic/sporting spirit and it was great to see all the young talent there.
Kerala is famous for its football fans and Gokulam Kerala FC is no way different. How do you see the fan culture at GKFC and what was your experience playing against them at Kozhikode?
Malabarians and GKFC fans are known as great football supporters. In previous matches, I have experienced their high energy and seen how actively they support the team. It seems there is a real connection with the community, and this is important because the sport has the power to change lives. As a player, I don’t think you could wish for better support.
Your message to the GKFC fans.
It will be a tough year for fans as maybe they won’t be able to come to the stadium. We will certainly be missing their physical presence.
I request all fans please don’t forget us – put on our colors, shout at the TV from your living room, and please share your messages of encouragement and feedback on social media. This way we will feel your support and it will help us keep up our game.
And, please don’t forget to wear your mask and wash your hands.
How many clean sheets are you aiming at with Gokulam Kerala FC?
It’s always good to aim high, so I’d say of course I’m aiming at 100 percent clean sheets. I’ll certainly put in my 100 percent towards this. One should never underestimate their opponents though and with so much talent in I-league it won’t be an easy job, but I’m ready to take it on.
About the experience of playing in the I-League and your ambition.
I-League has historically been a highly competitive league. India has top players but we need to invest and support young players, especially those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, and also girls. We need to take football to the same level as cricket because it is a world game and also an Olympic sport
This year is different from any other year playing football. There is so much uncertainty. For players, we need to take extra precautions and acknowledge the risks, and at the same time, we are leaders that can show good behaviors like wearing a mask and washing our hands with soap.
My goals are three at this stage in my career;
In the immediate term make sure I am season ready and at the top of my fitness, to get to know my teammates but also coach and management so that we all work together to make our way to the top match by match. My personal goal is to make it back into the national team and to represent India.
Longer-term I would like to see more investment and support for football, to help develop the sport for the next generation of players, both girls and boys.
And of course, in these times I think we all want to see India fight corona and come back from this COVID19 pandemic, in the same way, a good defender or striker comes back fighting when a team is down.