Seiminlen Doungel trains with kids of the Kuki tribe

Indian wideman Seiminlen Doungel has been keeping fit and making the most of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic by passing on his football expertise to the younger generation. The 26-year-old winger from Manipur has spent his lockdown with members of the Kuki tribe in his home state.

“Coming here was quite special for me. My family is also from the Kuki Tribe. Much like most of the Kuki people my father also used to get his earnings from the farm. We have sort of moved on from that way of life since I became a professional. But coming here and experiencing the simplicity with which these people lead their lives was simply amazing,” he told aiff.com.

While speaking about training with the kids in the village ground near Longja in the Chandel district of Manipur, Seiminlen insisted that although they did not know much about the scope of the beautiful game in India, each one of them are mesmerized by football. “They all know how to play football and like to play it too. But what they do not know is the scope that the sport has in the modern-day,” he said.

“Back in my younger days we did not know much of the scope of pursuing football as a professional. But now football can give you a viable career -- be it as a player or in any field surrounding the game,” Seiminlen explained.

The 26-year-old has been training regularly with the young aspiring footballers from the break of dawn and he has been impressed by their enthusiasm. “These guys were all really eager to start their training early, and I obliged. Some of the guys were so enthusiastic that they would even come to the ground an hour before and would start warming-up from 4 am,” Seiminlen said.

During the morning sessions around 40 kids from the village come for training as Seiminlen imparts his footballing knowledge. The kids are divided into two groups, as per their age. The junior group has kids between the ages of eight and 14, while the senior group comprised kids between the ages of 15 and 20.

Following the morning session, Seiminlen and the boys hit the ground again for another session between 4 pm and 6 pm in the evening. Their hard work culminated with his team beating their neighbouring village 1-0 and then 3-1.

“They were a little rusty at first, but with small tweaks to their training techniques here and there, we could soon see the change in the way these guys played. After a few days we took these guys to play against some neighbouring villages, and they actually won. First 1-0, and then 3-1,” he said.

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