Sahal Samad and Rahul KP say they prefer to turn disappointments into motivation to play better

Eleven tuskers march out to the green field, with a vow that they won’t back down in the next 90-odd minutes. A million eyes of the Yellow Army watch every move these men make and follow the ball in it’s journey. Mexican waves in a yellow sea and cheers energise the arena, as ball swishes past the opponents’ feet to score the winning goal. Kerala Blasters, the football team, has over the past few years etched a special space in the Malayali’s heart. Rahul KP and Sahal Samad speak about being in the team, playing football and the devotion of fans

The Indian Ozil

Sahal Abdul Samad is the midfielder for Kerala Blasters FC. Fans have nicknamed him ‘The Indian Ozil’, for the creativity he displays on the field. He was Indian Super League’s (ISL) emerging player in the last season.

Sahal Samad and Rahul KP say they prefer to turn disappointments into motivation to play better

The 22 year-old was born in Al Ain, UAE and has spent most of his life there. “I joined my first football team when I was in Class III at the New Indian Model School, Al Ain. If memory serves, I think I have always been playing football.” One of his brothersFazil was a big influence on him, for his taking a liking to the sport. “My whole family has always believed in me, they are my biggest supporters.” He came to study at SN College, Kannur, to take a shot at being a professional football player. “I was playing for the Kannur district team, when I got the offer from Kerala Blasters.”

He explains his routine which includes “training is everyday for 2-3 hours, followed up by an hour at the gym.” His diet starts with fruit juices and plain oats in the morning, followed up quinoa rice and steamed vegetables or dal for lunch and dinner.

When asked how he handles disappointments in a game, he said he is a naturally positive and happy person and that he turns disappointments on their head by using them as motivation to work harder.

“After few achievements, it’s quite natural to feel satisfied in that comfort zone. So I try to stay humble and always keep telling myself that I have a long way forward and still much to learn.”

Talking about the last game where they had unfortunately lost to Bangalore FC, he said “The fans have been extremely supportive and positive in their approach.”

The Young Gun

Rahul KP, the Kerala Blasters FC winger is the team’s young gun. The 19- year-old boy wonder hails from Thrissur, has also played for India in the FIFA Under 17 World Cup (2017). “I have always played football, as a kid I used to play with older boys in my hometownand I used to play wherever I could, be it paddy fields or in a class with a water bottle,” says Rahul. It was his father’s brother, Pradeep, an auto rickshaw driver, who believed in him and got him his first football. “He is my biggest supporter to this day.”

Sahal Samad and Rahul KP say they prefer to turn disappointments into motivation to play better

“My mother struggled a lot to raise me, she had no support from my father as far as for my football games went,” He remembers being punished by his father each time he returned home late after football. Dealing with his father, those days, was a challenge but he gives it a positive spin. “I believe I am here today for two reasons: because of my love for football and because of my dad. Every time I thank my dad for getting me where I am today, he gets teary-eyed.” Rahul’s happiest memory was making his parents proud when he got selected to play for India at the FIFA Under 17 World Cup.

When asked how he handles disappointment in a game, he said, “Nothing can bring me down. I think football is just like life, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. The only time I would be disappointed is when I have an injury and cannot play for my team.”

Of energy that fans give the Blasters, he says, “There is no football without the fans. When I hear cheers from the crowd, I find something more to put into the game.” He is especially thankful to those dedicated fans who came all the way from Kerala to watch the last match with Bangalore.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2021 2:49:47 AM |

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