“We must develop and nurture our sports culture”

In Indian football, Sanju Pradhan is a name to reckon with. His journey, starting from a Sombaria, West Sikkim to now one of the brightest names of Indian football has been inspiring. A role model for aspiring footballers, he has proved that with determination and hard work. Nothing is impossible. We chronicle his journey:

How did football happen to you?

I didn’t take football seriously at the beginning. I was just having fun with the sport. I can say it was a pass time but I never had an idea that this game will make my life worthwhile. I realized this much later.

What was that turning point which you think changed it all?

The moment when I was selected for Sports Hostel in Namchi, football took a serious turn in my life. I saw everyone so dedicated to the sport. This changed my outlook towards the sport. My awareness of life and of my game went to another different level.

You come from a remote part of Sikkim. How would you sum up this journey?

I hail from a small village. I have a middle class background. There were no proper grounds to practice then but still I would always stress that hard work and dedication will pay you rich dividends, if not immediately then eventually. Sometimes I think I was lucky to be born in a middle class family, had I been born in a rich family I would have been doing some different things or nothing at all as I would have had all the facilities in life. Whatever little I have achieved is due to the fact that I had to struggle and work hard.

How supportive was your family?

Whatever I am today is all because of my family. They supported me in every step.

Do you remember any moment in life when you wanted to give up?

Not these days, but I remember once when I was quite a small kid. I ran away to home from my hostel as I was home sick and I missed my family a lot. My mother then consoled me and said that if I stay in the hostel my future would be bright. So always take the advice given by your family.

What was that moment when you felt “okay I have arrived"?

I still feel like a young boy just starting off like the ones in my academy. There is still so much to do and learn.

What are the things you would like to change in Sikkim?

I think our state is a good example in the country but just as a sportsperson I think we must develop and nurture our sports culture. So that a sportsperson is not dependent on anyone – in order to practice, learn or even for a living.

Future plans for Sikkim:

Like I said before, I want to bring sports culture in the state for the sake of sports lovers. The present generation is really not aware of the fact that sports is a very good career option. Sports is a discipline that not only maintains health but it also wards off other negative influences in society. Through sports we can represent our village, state and the country in national and international level which gives self satisfaction.