Curtis Fleming, Head Coach RoundGlass Punjab Football Club expressed that they “want to be competitive” when they kick-off their I-League 2020-21 campaign in January 2021.
He also sounded out to all 30 million-odd Punjabi residents to back their “only team” in I-League and they would surely “try to make everyone proud.”
“This is our debut season and we will want to be competitive once our I-League campaign kicks-off. I’m really proud to be the coach of this side,” the former Republic of Ireland international said in their inaugural virtual press conference on Sunday, November 29.
“I have come from a country of very few population. As I have heard, Punjab has a rich history in football and they are very passionate about this sport. We want the support of 30 million Punjabis residents out there. We would try to make everyone proud.”
Bikramjit Singh, former I-League champion mentioned he’ll be “proud” to represent a “Punjabi club” for the first time in his professional career and his family is looking forward to seeing him thrive donning the RoundGlass Punjab FC colours.
“It’s a big opportunity for me to play for a Punjabi club for the first time in my career. You can see so many Punjabi footballers playing professionally for other clubs and now, I am really happy to have signed for this club. My family wishes me to grow and get success here. I wish to carry on and play for RoundGlass Punjab FC for a longer time.”
Joseba Beitia, the Spaniard playmaker who played an instrumental role in Mohun Bagan winning the I-League last season mentioned that “this is a new season” and he’s raring to go.
“(My) last season was fantastic. But, then the pandemic broke out and we couldn’t train for a long time. Here in Punjab FC, we have a very good team and our pre-season is going according to the plan. I can’t wait for more to hit the pitch and win the League once again,” Beitia exuded.
Coach Fleming, who brings in an experience of being the deputy to renowned managers like Tony Pulis, Ian Holloway in QPR, Hartlepool United, sounded pretty content with the squad in his disposal. He stated that the “blend between experience and youth” may provide them with an edge over their rivals.
“(I am) Very happy with the squad. We have taken time to get (the team) together. Out of the 26 players, we have got some exciting youth players besides successful experienced players. We have got 8-9 players who are U-18s,” he continued, “There are some exciting talented players and none of them are here for a holiday. All in all, we have a well-balanced squad who has the potential to achieve what’s our target in this season.”
Bikash Yumnam, former Indian Arrows defender was also present in the press conference. Earlier this year, he was included in the prestigious list of sixty best young footballers across the globe by an international magazine and the sturdy central defender feels it brings in “more responsibility” for himself.
“Our director, coach everyone is very friendly and helpful. The way it’s going, I’m enjoying my time here and looking forward to the season,” Yumnam added, “There comes more responsibility for me. My job is to stay focused and keep working hard.”
I-League 2020-21 will be hosted adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Ministry of health and family welfare, Government of India and no spectators will be allowed inside the stadium. Beitia stated that although they love to play in front of a packed house, they would try to adapt to the “new football” soon and would focus on their target once the season gets going.
“Yes, we play for our supporters but this extraordinary situation needs to be treated with extraordinary care. We are really thankful that the season is all set to roll out and this is going to be the “new football”. At the end of the day, it’s 11v11 on the pitch and we’ll focus only on that, nothing else.”