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‘Little Bodyguard’ Ninthoi trains with his mom during COVID-19 lockdown

India U-19 international Ninthoinganba Meetei with his mother. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)
India U-19 international Ninthoinganba Meetei with his mother. Photo courtesy: AIFF Media

While the world observes the lockdown hoping to see out the COVID-19 pandemic threat, a quaint little courtyard in a suburban area of Imphal, Manipur is buzzing with repetitive thuds of a football.

In the courtyard, the lean yet sturdy figure of Ninthoinganba Meetei is seen running constantly from one end of the yard to the other, returning the ball back over a bench that serves the purpose of a makeshift net.

Over on the other side of the bench stood the curious figure of a middle-aged woman, donning a t-shirt and a sarong. Clearly not as agile as the India U-19 international footballer, she attempts to return the ball with both her hands locked in a volleyball-stance. It is quite clear that she is giving her son quite the run around, but there are huge smiles on both their faces, as the rally keeps going past five or 10 shots.

Ninthoi, as the 18-year-old is fondly called in the dressing room, has been looking at different ways to train while staying within the confines of his home during the lockdown. However, it was the involvement of his mother, Kh Meena Leima, that really helped him find an exercise that lets him both practice his touches on the ball, and also a bit of running.

(Soumo Ghosh / AIFF Media Team)