GUWAHATI, Jan 17: Cheniyin FC’s (CFC) Baoringdao Bodo, the youngest ever to play in the Indian Super League (ISL) tie, has come a long way to make a mark for the country in age-group football and now looking to make it big in senior soccer as well. Ahead of CFC’s match against NorthEast United FC on Friday Bodo, who hails from Halflong, in an email interview, talks about his experience rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jeje Lalpekhlua and other foreigners in the CFC team.Here is the excerpts
You became the youngest player to feature in an ISL match, how does it feel?
It was a very good feeling. It would’ve been much better if the team would’ve won, but we lost 2-3 to FC Goa. However I would like to thank the coach and the Cheniyin family for believing in me and giving me the opportunity.
How much are you learning everyday playing alongside the likes of Jeje and the other intertiol stars in your team?
Every day I learn a lot, both on and off the pitch. The senior players are very professiol, they take things very seriously. It is important for someone young like me to be on my toes and observe all I can from the senior players.
A word on coach John Gregory and what did he tell you before your debut match against FC Goa? Were you surprised that you made it to the starting XI?
I have been working hard and giving my best in training. The coach was happy with me and decided to start with me. To be honest, I was surprised that I was in the starting XI. I knew I would play, but I didn’t know I would start. He advised me to treat it like any other match and play my tural game.
What was your initial feeling when you were picked by Cheniyin FC and how did your family react to this development?
I always focus on myself, trying to become a better player. My only thought is to play and make the club and my family as proud as possible. My family was very happy Cheniyin FC picked me and have always been supportive of me playing football.
Tell us something about your journey from Haflong to SAI Guwahati and then to the AIFF Elite Academy in Goa and now ISL?
My age was around 12 when I joined SAI and I represented them at the tiols also. I was then scouted by AIFF coaches and that was my first step towards developing as a player. I was at the AIFF Academy for more than 5 years, and I represented India at all the youth levels.
You were part of the Indian team which won the SAFF U-16 Championships in 2013, how does it feel to wear tiol colours?
It is always a proud moment to represent the tion. The feeling is very different compared to playing for a club. And when you win something like this and make your country proud, it is an unmatched feeling. About the transition to the senior level, difference is that you don’t get too much time to adjust with the latter.
Tell us something about your family. Does anybody in your family play football?
My family is comprised of my parents and four brothers. My mother Thairingdi Langthasa is a primary school teacher and father Jibon Bodo works in the Assam Forest Department. My father played soccer in district level
Is your family supportive of your football career?
My family has always been supportive of my passion for playing football. When I don’t get to play, they advise me to be patient and that I will get my chance. Hopefully, in the coming years I will be wearing the senior tiol team jersey and making them proud. That is the primary focus I’m working hard towards.
How did you first start playing football and who was your inspiration during your formative years?
The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa got me really passiote about football. Cristiano Roldo has been a huge inspiration in my formative years. Football has been everything for me. That’s the only thing that makes me happy.
When did you get your first break and at what level?
Vanlal Bongpui, a coach of CRPF, is one person I would like to mention here. I was 12 years old when he gave me and opportunity to play a CRPF Tourment and it was a good break for me, I believe. I would also like to mention Thomson Langthasa, captain of the Assam state team back then. He was the one who scouted me and sent me to SAI, following which everything changed for me.