THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Jeje Lalpekhlua: Playing at age group level helps build team spirit from young age

Indian national team star striker Jeje Lalpekhlua. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)
Indian national team star striker Jeje Lalpekhlua. Photo courtesy: AIFF Media

Ace Indian striker Jeje Lalpekhlua feels graduating from the age-group teams to the senior team helps a player go from strength to strength eventually. The 27-year-old striker said, “It helped a lot for me. The maturity, the international game experience which we gained in the age-group tournaments helped us a lot while we went on to represent the senior team.”

“The difference between international and domestic football is huge. The players, who join the national team directly, feel the heat instantly. It’s really tough to adapt to international football. It helped us heavily rising through the ranks of age-group teams,” he added.

Jeje along with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Pritam Kotal, Pronay Halder, Narayan Das et al represented the nation in the U-19, U-22 as well as U-23 age-groups besides plying his trade in the 2010 Asian Games.

“We have been playing together since long and it has helped us immensely building the team-spirit from a tender age. Representing the nation in the AFC Competitions as well as Asian Games taught us the competitive level and toughness of the international football.”

Colm Toal, the veteran coach who is regarded very highly by the AIFF Academy graduates left a heavy impact on Jeje’s career and the Mizo-born striker profusely thanked him.

“Colm Sir helped us bring the discipline in our life. It was the first time when I stepped out of Mizoram and everything was like a newer world to me. I felt flabbergasted but his caring nature eased the tension off gradually. We learnt minute details of the footballer’s life in the likes of discipline in life, diet, work-out routine and many more.”

The India U-16 National Team who have caught the imaginations of everyone having garnered four points from their first two matches in the ongoing AFC U-16 Championship have earned another supporter of late.

“Our U-16 team are doing very good. Winning against Vietnam and drawing with Iran underline their football acumen. Their football sense is so sound. They are capable of doing much better and the future is brighter for these boys,” he added, “They have a big match tomorrow and they just need to continue doing the job to overcome Indonesia.”

(AIFF Media)