India begins their campaign in the FIFA U-17 World Cup against the United States of America on the 6th of October.
This is the story of Ninthoinganba Meitei, the rising football star and India U-17 midfielder of India.The 16-year-old, jersey number 7 is a creative midfielder selected in the World Cup squad from Mizoram. Ninthoi lost his father 2 months ago to thyroid cancer.
And yet, has made it to under-17 Football Team of India and will be playing the World Cup at Delhi, living up to the promise he had made to his late Father, Manglemb.
When Ninthoi landed in Imphal after an exposure tour to Mexico, he immediately sensed something was wrong, since instead of his father his uncle had come to receive him.”Every time it was my father who would receive me, but this time my uncle was there at the airport. I knew something was wrong and it was then that my uncle told me that father wasn’t keeping too well,” the India U-17 midfielder tells TOI.
Ninthoi rushed home & hugged his father Manglemb who was lying in bed, seemingly in pain due to thyroid cancer.His family never wanted to distract him from his sport and desperately wanted to see him in Indian jersey.
Hence, he wasn’t informed earlier.He didn’t want to leave his sick father yet, had to go. He promised to his father that soon, he would be playing for India in World Cup.
“It was the toughest phase of my life. I couldn’t see my father like that but he promised to come and see me in Delhi for the World Cup. He even took my phone and recorded a message, a sound that you can hear when people cheer at the stadium,” TOI quoted Ninthoi as saying.
2 months ago, as Ninthoi was preparing for another exposure tour with rest teammates in Delhi, he was called home immediately only to know that his father had passed away. Having lost his biggest inspiration, he was all broken but his promise held him together not letting him to shatter.
He got selected to the under-17 national team. Still, he regrets having held back his father from watching him play Subroto Cup at Delhi when he was 13.
Three years ago when Ninthoi’s school had qualified for the Subroto Cup in Delhi his father wanted to take leave from his job as a cow herder and make a relatively-expensive trip to Delhi and see his son playing outside Mizoram.
Since Ninthoi’s father was strictly vegetarian, fearing that he would stay hungry in Delhi, Ninthoi forbade him from coming, a decision which he still regrets.”I will miss him for the World Cup when we play in Delhi.” he said to TOI.
This time, his mother Neena and sister would be spending their savings from fish-selling to buy tickets to Delhi and see Ninthoi play.
Talking about World Cup he says,”Honestly, now I fear nothing, I don’t feel any pressure of playing in the World Cup. The only pressure I ever felt was to make it to the Indian team, just the way my father wanted it. But now…” he says to TOI as he wipes off a teardrop.
We know, Ninthoi that you terribly miss your father and regret that small mistake from your past. But you know you are a strong soul to have bravely endured all pain and still standing high.We wish you your best performance in World Cup. Your father, from somewhere must be seeing you all through. And no doubt that you are making him proud!
h/t : TOI