By Nilanjan Datta,
SILIGURI: One has never seen Karanjit Singh frown. Be it in practice sessions, be it during moments with Teammates or be it during that patient wait to get his name enrolled in the Starting XI. “There are no ill feelings,” he utters. In a freewheeling interview to www.the-aiff.com, Karanjit speaks at length about donning the India Colours, the healthy competition, learning from each other, a Goalkeeper’s diet and much more. EXCERPTS:
Do you feel frustrated sit on the bench?
Every Player wants to play but not all can. There can be only one Goalkeeper on the pitch. As a Goalkeeper I’m proud of what I have achieved so far. I have guarded the India citadel and have been honest to my job. Whenever my Coach feels I should play, I play. Till that time, I need to be mentally and physically fit. In fact, I have played quite a few matches for India. So why should I get frustrated?
How do you define the rivalry between Goalkeepers for that lot in the National Team?
I just want to tall all that there is a healthy competition among us for that one coveted spot whenever the National Team plays. It helps us improve ourselves. Every time we assemble at the Camp, we learn from each other. Subrata Paul is there where he is because of what he has achieved. He is a Great Goalkeeper. And as for the others, be it Sandip Nandy, Subhasish Roychowdhury, Arindam Bhattacharya, I’ve always looked upto them and watch them regularly trying to educate myself as possible.
Can you elaborate as to how you learn from each other.
I will give you an example. We were at the Preparatory Camp in Bangalore ahead of the Nehru Cup and one day Subrata-bhai fine-tuned my outing and explained as to how I should narrow down the angle while anticipating a diagonal through ball. It was of great help. I have never repeated the same mistake again. As Goalkeepers, we discuss and watch our own sessions. Sometimes we tell each other about our positioning, balance, etc.
How do you prepare for a match?
It’s all about focus and recovery. A Goalkeeper needs to recover the fastest after a session or a match for the next one. But during the match, he doesn’t get any chance to recover. Once beaten, he is bitten. There’s just no recovery of any mistakes. You stay the last line of defence and have to be impulsive yet sure of everything. Sometimes I even watch videos of other Goalkeepers. Petr Cech has always been my idol.
Do Goalkeepers hate the word ‘diet?’
Football is a body contact game where you lose calories with every step. During practice when you dive around, you end up burning more than others. But the tragedy stays that you cannot gulp down whatever you want; otherwise your agility and reflexes would go for a toss. Fats are a strict ‘No, No.’ Sometimes I envy the other Players a lot. They too need to control their diet but not as much as Goalkeepers.
Are Goalkeepers born or made?
A combination of both! Reflexes and hand-eye coordination is something a few are born with. But unless you nurture it, you won’t make it big. And then, there’s the luck factor.
I was lucky to have been spotted by Sukhwinder Singh and Parminder Singh while playing in the Jarnail Singh Memorial Tournament. I was in Standard 12 at that time and I owe them a lot as much I am grateful to Virender Singh for all his inputs. All of them nurtured me and made me a Goalkeeper.