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Rajasthan United FC defender Harmanjot Singh aims to create history in I-League Qualifiers

New Delhi, Oct 3: The opening fixture of the Hero I-League Qualifiers 2021 will see two debutant clubs in Rajasthan United FC and Ryntih Sports Club face off against each other at the Bangalore Football Stadium in Bengaluru.

Rajasthan United's defender Harmanjot Singh - a former India U-19 and former Indian Arrows - is excited to play the I-League qualifiers. In an exclusive interaction with MyKhel, the footballer from Gurdaspur (Punjab) aims to qualify for I-League and create history.

If qualified, Rajasthan United FC will become the first team from the state to make it to the prestigious league and give a major boost to the sport in the north-western state.

Here are the excerpts:

MyKhel: How are your preparations for Hero I-League Qualifiers going?

Harmanjot Singh: The preparations are going well. Our pre-season training camp in Goa went well where we performed exceedingly well against some of the good teams. The result and experience of playing against those teams have been quite positive.

MK: When did you start playing football and who inspired you to build a career in the beautiful game?

Harmanjot: I started playing football at the age of 11 during my school days. I joined a local club in my village. When I was playing at the national level, I came into the eyes of AIFF scouts and selectors. The selectors for the Indian teams organise camps in various parts of the country. I represented India U-13 in 2010 and from then on I went on playing for India U-14, U-16 and U-19 sides continually.

Football is quite popular in the Gurdaspur district, where I hail from. My uncle plays football and got a job in Punjab Police via sports quota. I have been inspired watching my uncle play football and decided to take up the sport and build a career in the game.

MK: How valuable has the India-U19 and Indian Arrows' experience been for you?

Harmanjot: During my India colt days, I travelled with the team to several countries and learnt a lot. The exposure I got from those trips helped me improve my game. I started improving the basics when I started playing for the Indian Arrows and gradually I worked on my skills and positioning. I've learnt a lot both on and off the field.

MK: How tough - physically and psychologically has been life for you during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Harmanjot: Being a professional, we are bound to keep ourselves fit both mentally and physically. During the lockdown, all the players kept themselves busy with basic fitness regime at home and practised at home.

I used to do circle training, skipping and cycling at home to keep myself fit and motivated. Also, during the lockdown I used to train with Germanpreet Singh - the senior India national team footballer - who plays for Chennaiyin FC in the ISL. He's a good friend and lives in my neighbourhood. We used to do cycling and various other activities together to keep ourselves fit. I chat a lot about ways to improve my game and he provides me with valuable inputs.

I used to watch old videos of several Indian and foreign footballers and observed their techniques on the pitch. As football is my passion so I kept doing something or the other related to it. Cristiano Ronaldo is my favourite player. Watching him run on the pitch and his dedication towards the sport itself is a big motivation.

MK: What's your individual target with Rajasthan United?

Harmanjot: The main target as of now is qualifying for I-League. Ours is the first team from Rajasthan and if we make it to the I-League then it will be a major boost to football in the state of Rajasthan. We have a chance to create history and become the first team from Rajasthan to play the prestigious league. If the team does well, then I will also have better future prospects for that will give me an opportunity to play against big clubs.

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Story first published: Sunday, October 3, 2021, 20:49 [IST]
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