Born in Cortalim, Goa, and brought up in Delhi, Vikas Singh Saini has come a long way. His journey from representing three big Kolkata clubs at different levels to finishing as a runner up with Churchill Brothers is laudable. A 24-year-old centre-back who is also comfortable as right back began his career as a part of the youth team of East Bengal. Later, he joined their rivals Mohun Bagan and played in CFL [Calcutta Football League]. Saini signed for Black Panthers [Mohammedan Sporting] before rejoining the Red and Gold Brigade [East Bengal]. The beginning of the new year saw Saini signing for his club Churchill Brothers. We here present before you a friendly chat with Saini about his football journey and plans.
Growing up in Goa, how were you influenced to take up football for a living, and what hardships did you face growing up to pursue the sport?
I grew up in Delhi. My elder brother always motivates me and supports me to become a professional player. It was tough initially, but I’m thankful to my family & brother; they support me all the time in this process to become a professional player.
You had a humble start to your career with Mohun Bagan in the Calcutta Football League. How has your time been playing for a giant club like Mohun Bagan and, most importantly, playing in CFL? How did the CFL help you grow as a player?
I was lucky at that time for a big club like Mohun Bagan to have offered me a chance to play in the Calcutta Football League. It’s a dream of every footballer in the country to wear Green & Maroon Jersey, but that time was a bit tough because that was the start of my career and playing for such a big club. Anyway, CFL was a great platform for me because every professional club looks at this league for scouting. You get to play with so many experienced players. It’s helped a lot to become more competitive and learn things from experienced players.
From playing with BSS Sporting in the 2nd Division, how did your sudden transfer occur to Mohammedan SC, considering it was your first professional club of the big three Kolkata teams?
When I got the offer from BSS, I made sure that I give my best, and I did that. I played in all the matches, and after that, Mohammedan SC’s offer came.
You’ve had mixed experiences with East Bengal. Tell us about what happened before East Bengal’s first ISL season and how it impacted you as a player?
Yes, after playing for Mohammedan SC in the I-League 2, they offered me. But unfortunately, I was not registered in the ISL squad. Yes, I was a bit upset that time, and suddenly I met Rahul (Football Agent); he helped me get into Churchill Brothers FC.
As a player, you’ve had to face various ups and downs. How do you mentally prepare yourself for such situations and stay positive?
As a footballer, you have to be ready to face good & bad times. Everyone will be with you in good times, but you got to find your motivation in bad times. So I try to remember the good times when I feel down, focus on my goal, and do meditation.
Your move to Churchill Brothers turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Considering the team came second, how would you describe your season with Churchill Brothers?
Last season we all worked hard, but unfortunately, we ended as Runners Up.
Having played nine games for the club, how do you think you progressed as a player this season?
Yes, I played nine matches. I worked hard in every training session, but I need to work harder to be better. It was my first season in the I-League, so I learned so many things this season.
Considering the entire team was under a strict bio-bubble, how would you and the team spend your time off-field?
In Bio-bubble, we had spent our time off the field playing indoor games and doing fun activities.
How was the experience of playing alongside players like Bazie Armand, Zuniga, and Luka Majcen, all of whom are highly experienced in their respective position?
They are good players; they helped me always whenever I made any mistake. I learned so many things from them.
What would your goal be for the next season, and how would you keep up with your consistent performance for the upcoming season?
Next season, I want to play all the matches and try not to commit the same error I did last season. I want to play for the National Team.
Can we see you play for Churchill Brothers again or don a different coloured shirt next season?
I have one more year left in my contract there.
Follow our website for all the latest updates on Indian Football.