New Delhi, June 23: Pritam Kotal is an Indian professional footballer who plays as a defender for the club ATK and the Indian National team. ATK, which has created history becoming the first club to win 3 ISL titles as being the winner of Indian Super League (ISL) last season again.
Pritam who hails from Uttarpara, West Bengal, began playing football at the age of four after being inspired by his uncle, who was also a footballer.
Kotal began his International career for India at the Under-19 level back in 2012 and after impressive performances for his club, he made his international debut for India in 2015 at 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Nepal.
Since then he has never looked back, he was focused and ambitious towards his goal and represented India at various Internationals and even till the date.
"Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it "
Pritam has seen a very difficult time, has struggled a lot but still nothing could stop him from playing and achieving his goals. Kotal plays as a defensive midfielder and plays a vital role in present Indian national football team.
Pritam is country's one of the best defenders who has also been awarded as he Best Emerging Player of the year by AIFF in 2015.
The Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers as well as the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualification matches were scheduled to be played in March and June 2020. But due to novel coronavirus (COVID-190 outbreak it got postponed.
Meanwhile discussing on his journey, Pritam Kotal discussed more on his passion and goals, in an exclusive chat with Vishal Sharma.
Q. You are one of the country's best defender in the Indian national football team. Can you take us through your journey?
It was a long journey for me. First of all I had to struggle a lot to come to this place and I had to fight with myself all the time and more than that I would say that my parents supported me a lot in every phase of my life whether my sporting journey, personal life or professional career. They're my backbone.
Q. What sort of Struggles do you faced in life? How did you overcome out of those situations?
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 depends on my father. Dad had a hard time bringing me all the sports equipment I needed and I couldn't always ask for them but I'm very proud that dad always be my side all the time.
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.
Q. How do you manage to play all three positions as a defensive midfielder?
First of all, in today's football you have to be ready for all the positions and you've to give coach the option that you can play in all the positions. For me the same thing happened when I start my football career I played defensive med-half then centre back, then I played so many years as a right back and everyone knows me as right back, but in defensive line I can play all the positions.
Q. Who is your inspiration and why? Which of skills make you apt for the sports? How do you become interested in football?
My inspiration always is my dad because how he work hard every day that's inspired me a lot and I admire him a lot. My uncle was a football player and I'm growing up with a footballing background so it was very easy for me to choose.
Q. How do you feel playing for the Indian national football team since you started your international career for the U-19 level back in 2012?
First of all, it was my dream to play for my country. I was very happy when I first went to the U-19 National team and I've always had a goal to play in the starting XI and be represented in the senior team. Wearing the national team jersey isn't something that can be expressed in words, I'm really lucky to have had the opportunity to wear this jersey and to represent India.
Q. ATK brag of having the second-best defensive record in the league, and a lot of credits goes to you. According to you, what're your chances of becoming AIFF Player of the year?
First of all I'm very happy that defensively we've done very well, But it's all teamwork. Look there are a lot of players here who deserve it but if I get it of course I'll be very happy and it'll motivate me to improve myself more and more.
Q. When did you make your debut at international level?
My first international match was against Nepal 2014 World Cup qualifying match.
Q. What is your all-time favorite halftime performance?
It's very difficult to choose one, but the match we played against Bengaluru FC this year was a memorable one for me.
Q. You've played for the top notch I League level clubs, what's your most memorable moment? Share the experience?
If I were to talk about the I League, I would say 2015 was the most memorable year for me. This year is also memorable for me and every Mohun Bagan supporter because Bagan has become the I League champion after 13 years.
Q. ATK has made history as it become the first club to win three ISL titles defeating Chennaiyin FC this year. How do you feel to be a part of winning team squad again?
Honestly, 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.
Q. Whats your training schedule like? Do you practice everyday? Also do you have any personal trainer?
When it comes to training, when I'm with the team, I've to maintain the team timing. During off-season I'll do practice two to three days in a week and yoga, gym and everything to help me stay fir.
Q. What's your next big goal in your career?
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 now. 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.
Vishal Sharma is a Delhi based sports journalist. An enthusiast who loves to travel and explore things around. He analysis sports and observe in-depth manner. He is a news and features writer on several online publications. His life is all around sports. Some of his hobbies are blogging, singing, research, travelling and meet geeks. He is a Wikipedian too.