Pritam Kotal: Biggest goal is to represent my country at a World Cup
ATK FC defender Pritam Kotal has already won and achieved a lot in his career but representing India at a World Cup remains one of his biggest goals for the future. The 26-year-old defender’s immediate focus, though, is on continental cup competitions after ATK quailed for the AFC Cup courtesy their third Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) triumph last season.
“The biggest goal in my life is to represent the country at a World Cup in future. Right now, I want to concentrate more on the games I've in front of me. My team will play in the AFC Cup this year and my focus will be on that. I hope I can play better and help my team do well at the Asian level,” he said in an interview with mykhel.com.
Coming from a humble background, Pritam recalled his struggles at the start of his footballing journey. “The first things I had to face was that we weren't that strong in terms of money, my father was a rickshaw puller. At the time our whole family depended on my father. Dad had a hard time bringing me all the sports equipment that I needed and I couldn't always ask for them but I'm very proud that dad has always been by my side at all times,” he said.
The Indian international continued, “Apart from my family members, Anup Nag (childhood coach) and Sanjay Chakravarty (mentor) are the two most important people in my life. If it weren't for those two, I probably wouldn't be Pritam Kotal today. These two played a big role in my growing up.”
He went on to add how his father is his inspiration and how he followed in his uncle’s footsteps. “My inspiration is always my dad because how he worked hard every day inspired me a lot and I admire him a lot. My uncle was a football player and I've grown up with a footballing background, so it was very easy for me to choose,” the 26-year-old said.
A versatile defender capable of playing across the backline, Pritam spoke of the importance of being able to adapt in different positions. “In today's football you have to be ready for all the positions and you've to give the coach the option that you can play in all the positions. For me, the same thing happened when I started my football career. I played defensive mid-half then centre-back, then I played so many years as a right-back and now everyone knows me as right-back, but in the defensive line I can play all the positions,” he asserted.
A part of two of ATK’s three Hero ISL triumphs, Kotal credited the Kolkata-based club’s management and its players’ consistency for their success. “It's great that I was a member of the team when it was champion in 2016 and I was a member of this team when we were champion again this year. And from the club's point of view, I think the way they support the players and the management is very good. That's why they're consistently successful. ATK is one of the best clubs in India,” he said.
One of the few defenders to have featured in all Hero ISL seasons, Kotal has been an integral part of ATK’s backline, which had the second-best defensive record in the league last campaign. He will be looking to be at the peak of his powers again in the seventh edition of the Hero ISL as ATK look to become the first club to successfully defend the league title.