Nongdamba Naorem has established himself as a bright player to watch out for as he wooed the entire country with his silky skills and his wonderful performance in the I-League. Naorem had a key role in the title-winning Mohun Bagan team as they dominated the league with their superiority.
Naorem, who was on loan from Kerala Blasters, will be keen on making a mark in the top-tier league of India, the Indian Super League. He has caught the attention of many fans and club, and the youngster has already earned a lot of praises from coaches and pundits.
We caught up with Nongdamba Naorem to talk about his journey, his career until now and what he plans to do ahead. Don’t miss the rapid-fire segment at the end!
Read the excerpts below-
What made you to choose football as your career?
When I was in school, I loved playing football with my friends. Afterwards, I realized that football was the only talent God had given me, and that is when I pursued football as a career.
If not football, then what?
I would probably continue my studies and attend college!
What struggles did you face when you started your career?
Every player has to face some struggles in their career when they start, and it was the same with me. Many people didn’t believe in me and didn’t think I would be successful, but I kept playing. My game improved slowly and after the U17 FIFA World Cup, everyone had confidence in me.
What is the stepping stone in your career?
I think playing in the U17 FIFA World Cup was the stepping stone for me as my career took off from there.
What did you learn from this season, where you played for Mohun Bagan, where there is a lot of pressure from fans?
After coming to Kolkata, I realized that there is a lot of pressure while playing for Mohun Bagan. The fans also have a lot of expectations, which gives pressure too. This helped me to become more mature and taught me how to handle the pressure while playing, especially when we are losing.
How do you stay calm under pressure?
Whenever I am under pressure, I think about all the goals I’ve scored before and all the successful dribbles. This gives me confidence and I feel calm.
Who is your favourite player either from your team or any other club? Why?
My favourite player from our team is Fran Morante Martinez. He is a very good player and even though he is a defender, he’s very good with the ball. He helps me a lot, just like all other players, but he’s the player I like the most.
What are your opinions on Kibu Vicuna, your coach at Mohun Bagan?
Coach Kibu is not only a great coach but also a great person. I feel that apart from being a good coach, he has a good personality as well and that is what I like the most about him. He always encourages me to play freely and has given me the independence to try whatever I want to do on the field.
How do you guys motivate yourself in the dressing-room at half-time if you are behind in the scoreline?
Whenever we go into the dressing-room at half-time, we forget what happened in the first half, even if we are ahead. We play the second half as a new game, which motivates us if our team is trailing.
How was your Kolkata Derby experience?
In my football career, the Derby is the best match I’ve ever played. It’s an amazing feeling and it’s every player’s dream to play the Kolkata Derby. It’s unlike any other match and it was an amazing experience to be a part of it.
What’s your feeling after winning the I-League with Mohun Bagan?
Winning the I-League with Mohun Bagan is a massive achievement for me. It’s difficult to even play for Mohun Bagan, and winning the championship with them is even more difficult. So it’s an honor for me to win I-League with this club.
How do you maintain your fitness in the pre-season? How are you staying fit in the lockdown?
In the pre-season, I do some jogging, play football with my friends, exercise in the house and some rope skipping. In the lockdown, it’s almost the same, except I don’t go outside the house.
How important is diet for a footballer? Do you have any cheat days?
Definitely, diet is one of the most important things in the life of a footballer. If you don’t take care of your diet, no matter how good you are, you won’t achieve much. I rarely have cheat days, but yes, I eat some junk food after matches, as we tend to lose a lot of calories during a game.
What advice would you give to all the young footballers who aspire to become a professional?
One thing which I would like to tell them is that believe in yourself. Keep working hard and don’t lie to yourself. If you want to be successful in any field, you need to be honest with yourself and keep working hard.
RAPID FIRE ROUND
Favorite footballer, and why?
Eden Hazard. I love how he plays and dribbles!
Favorite sport other than football?
What do you carry with yourself during a match?
Shoes, shinguards, some dry fruits and electral powder
Most underrated player you’ve played with?
Lalengmawia (Apuia). He has got little chance till now, but I know he can and will play for the National Team too.
One football moment you can never forget?
Winning the I-League this season.
Best coach you’ve played under?
What are your aims for the next season?
Staying fit, being better than what I am today, and adapting to the level of the Indian Super League.
Things you like the most about Kolkata?
The city is beautiful and the people here are very nice too!
We hope that this interview made you a bit more informed about Nongdamba Naorem. Stay tuned for more such up and close interviews!