From too thin to too good: How Sivasakthi Narayanan silenced doubters to make a mark
Sivasakthi Narayanan's journey to stardom is a remarkable example of resilience, determination, and hard work. However, it was not too long ago when this young talent from Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu, faced rejections from several local teams due to his small and slender stature.
While his technical ability was evident, there was always hesitation among people to invest time and effort into a seemingly fragile individual who might never grow into a professional footballer.
The 21-year-old, who has been the breakthrough star at Bengaluru FC this season, looked back on the most challenging moments of his career during his childhood.
“They weren't looking at my game. Everyone's reasoning was - 'No height. No body.' No one said - 'It's not a problem that you don't have the height; we will give you a chance," Sivasakthi reminisced while speaking to Sportstar.
A cover star from Karaikudi! 🔥— Bengaluru FC (@bengalurufc) May 15, 2023
Blues' striker Sivasakthi is on the cover of @sportstarweb's May 2023 issue, opening up about his journey, the 2022-23 season, call-ups to the National Team and more. Grab your copy soon! 📔#WeAreBFC #NothingLikeIt #SportstarAllInForSports pic.twitter.com/aB0LAeblLK
Despite performing well and scoring goals in the trials, he was always shown the exit door. However, the forward never lost hope and kept aligning his passion for the sport with his dedication to playing it.
"I knew that it wasn't my fault, so why should I feel bad? I moved on to the next one," he said.
Prior to the 2018-19 season, it was the Raman Vijayan Soccer School in Tamil Nadu that finally recognized the potential in the youngster and selected him for the Hero Elite League. Sivasakthi lived up to the expectations of the scouts and emerged as the top scorer of the league, netting an impressive 22 goals in his debut season with the team.
The biggest breakthrough for him occurred in 2020 when he captured the attention of Naushad Moosa through his remarkable performance against Bengaluru FC B during a Youth I-League game.
He then progressed through the ranks of Bengaluru FC and maintained his astonishing form in the Bangalore Super Division league before eventually making his debut in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) against southern rivals Kerala Blasters FC in November 2021.
The beginning of Hero ISL 2022-23 proved to be challenging for both Bengaluru FC and Sivasakthi. With eight losses in their first 12 games, the Blues found themselves struggling in the bottom half of the table and Sivasakthi was warming the bench until the year turned around.
Simon Grayson made some tweaks to the team, and fortunes began to change for the Blues. They secured three successive victories, with Sivasakthi playing a significant role upon returning to the starting XI.
With veteran players like Sunil Chhetri and Roy Krishna struggling to find their form, it was the young forward who stepped up when his team needed him the most.
"After the win over Jamshedpur FC, Sunil and I did an interview where I said that we will definitely reach the top four. Sunil responded, 'He is just over-confident.' But we did end up being in the top four! No one expected us to do that," he stated.
The fearless attacker earned praise from all quarters as he concluded the season as the joint-second leading goal scorer for Bengaluru FC, tallying six goals and three assists in 21 Hero ISL games.
He was bestowed with the Emerging Player of the League award for his incredible breakthrough season.
Following an impressive club campaign, the 21-year-old was part of the Indian national camp ahead of the Hero Intercontinental Cup. He didn't make the cut to the final squad but he's just only getting started.