From Balrampur to Hero ISL to Indian senior team, Akash Mishra living out a dream

Akash Mishra has had a fairy-tale footballing journey in the last one year or so. The young defender was picked by Hyderabad FC ahead of the 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) and he turned out to be a gun performer featuring in all 20 games playing every minute as Manuel Marquez’s team narrowly missed out on a semi-final berth.

The fairy tale continued for him as shortly after he received a maiden call-up for India’s international friendlies against Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in March, and he featured in both games.

For a player who hails from Balrampar in Uttar Pradesh -- not exactly a hotbed for footballing talents by any stretch of imagination -- his rise to the summit of Indian football in such a short time is nothing short of extraordinary.

In a chat with www.the-aiff.com on International Mother’s Day, the 19-year-old recalled his predicament in his early days as a footballer.

“Nobody in my family was from a sporting background. All had their doubts because they all were of the opinion that studies were the way forward. But Mummy gave me tremendous support,” he said.

“…People in our town have this perception that you need to study and build a career in Balrampur itself. Log bade sheher mein nahi jaate [people in Balrampur don’t go to big cities] still stays the perception. There were just no examples of anybody doing so in our town,” he continued.

Mishra went on to emphasise the role that his mother has played in his development.  

“…My father was the more lenient parent back when I was growing up. So, Mummy would often play the bad cop. But I knew that whenever she was scolding me, she was actually trying to drive home some important point or lesson. Mummy ki daant alag hoti hai [A mother’s scolding is different]. It is more of a lesson,” he said.

Reminiscing about a time prior to 2019-20 when, at Indian Arrows, he couldn’t play almost an entire season on account of injury, Mishra, Emerging Player of the Month for January during the 2020-21 Hero ISL, said: “It was a very frustrating period for me. I had a long injury lay-off, and could not even get on the training pitch on most occasions. In the evenings I would cry on the phone with my mother. The uncertainty about the future at such moments can be very unnerving, but Mummy gave me the strength to carry on.”

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