A day after receiving the Arjuna Award Subrata Paul was back to business. He sweated it out in two sessions as the Indian National Team practiced ahead of the International Friendly against Puerto Rico slated for September 3. There were drizzles in between but the ‘Spiderman’, undaunted as ever did what he does best.
“The 2019 AFC Asian Cup UAE Qualifiers which are to be played from March 2017 has given us a realistic chance of making it to the Asian Cup in 2019. As preparation for it we are playing Puerto Rico who are a very good opposition. It’s the best way to test ourselves where we lie,” he stated at the pre-practice Media Interaction at the Andheri Sports Complex on Tuesday (August 30, 2016). “I appreciate the decision of the AIFF and the Coach to play this match.”
Subrata who had met the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in the Capital a day prior to the Arjuna Awards, said the Prime Minister stays “very keen to develop sports in India.”
“He congratulated all of us and told me to send in suggestions as to what needs to be done to develop football. Football is the most popular sport in the World and there was so much emphasis on developing the sport in the talks,” he added.
Subrata also gave a thumbs up to the venue saying the entire team is “excited to play in Mumbai.”
“I was a bit taken aback when I entered the Stadium today morning. This is one of the best stadias in India,” he certified. “I am very attached to Mumbai and Maharashtra overall having played for two years in Mumbai City FC and also for Pune FC and DSK Shivajians. This is a historical match as it’s after 61 years we are having an international match in Mumbai. We are expecting a full house. Come out in numbers and cheer for us.”
“There have been so many improvements in Indian football. It’s improving. The AIFF and IMG-R are doing so much for Indian football. Hopefully, in the coming 5-6 years, India will emerge as a superpower in Asia.”
Subrata also mentioned about the “transition phase” in Indian football.
“This is a transition period for Indian football. Constantine has been successful in building a team whose average age is around 24-25. This team needs to stay together and be groomed to achieve the best results. There are some exceptional talents in this squad,” he stated.
Subrata who has been labeled as an idol by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu lavished huge praise on Gurpreet.
“I appreciate him playing in Europe and he has been doing well. I also appreciate the decision of the Coach. He took a decision which he felt would benefit the team. My job is to keep performing and never lose focus,” he opined. “A player can never play for eternity. Even when I first came to the squad there was someone else who was the then No. 1.”
Speaking about receiving the Arjuna Award Subrata maintained that he never plays for any award.
“I have no complaints about whether I have received it late. There are so many great footballers who haven’t received the award. I need to thank God that I am one of the lucky 24 footballers who have won it.”
(Report & Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)