Guwahati: At a time when the phenomenon of 'brain drain' has become commonplace in India, Jason Lendi Sanglir, a Naga youth who grew up in Thailand, is planning a return back to his roots in Nagaland.
The athlete, who belongs to the Ao tribe, plans to return to Dimapur where he intends to kickstart football training for youths who have the potential but lack the infrastructure and training to make it big in "the beautiful game."
Sanglir's parents are missionaries who went to Thailand 30 years ago. Sanglir, committed towards sporting disciplines from the very onset, is now eyeing a return back to Nagaland where he intends to help his friend run a grassroots football program for promising youngsters in the state.
In a tell-all interview with The Sentinel Digital, the 31-year-old shared details about his footballing journey as well as future plans. Here are some excerpts:
You have had a long and enduring love affair with sports. Can you tell us something about your journey?
Throughout my childhood, sports had a huge influence on both my physical and psychological well-being. I owe a lot of what I have achieved and experienced to sports, particularly the sport of football.
Can you share some details about your footballing journey? Where did it take you?
I played football in my school teams from primary to high school. After high school, I had the opportunity to attend a university in California that had a top football programme. I joined the university's team as a goalkeeper and those years with the team is where I had the most footballing development through top-level training and coaching. We had an amazing group of players from all over the world and for our 2009 season, we were league and tournament champions in our conference as well as finalists in the national tournament.
So what happened after University? Were you able to continue with your passion for the sport?
After University, I stayed on in the US to work. During that period, I had the pleasure of representing Coca-Cola in its advertising and promotional campaign for the 2012 London Olympics. I returned to Bangkok for my master's degree in sustainable development but continued to be involved in football. In 2018, I had the opportunity to be involved in the promotional video for an athletic tournament hosted under the royal patronage of the princess of Thailand.
How did the plan to come to Nagaland materialize?
After completion of my studies, my friend Yongsen Jamir invited me to join and help with his grassroots football project in Dimapur. It was the perfect opportunity where I could apply my passion for sports and development. I also see it as an opportunity to connect with my roots, as I have never previously lived in Nagaland. With all that I have experienced and gained through sports, I do feel an obligation to share it with those who may not have the same opportunities that I have had, and open up the endless opportunities that sports can bring.
So, when do you intend to come to Nagaland to kickstart the project?
By September. Hopefully, the air routes shall be re-opened and I shall be able to come to Nagaland at the earliest. My friend Yongsen's project is called Dimapur Football Club and the goal here is to work with young talents at the grassroots level. I intend to help with both the training and running of the envisioned project that will hopefully make a difference to many lives.
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