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‘I would love to see more players from my state get opportunities,’ I-League Emerging Player Gyamar Nikum

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‘I would love to see more players from my state get opportunities,’ I-League Emerging Player Gyamar Nikum

New Delhi, April 24 (Ajit Weekly News) The journey of any footballer is strewn with struggles aplenty. Many have to grind it out in the academies and lower leagues before they get their due opportunities at the professional level. Inter Kashi’s Gyamar Nikum, however, has had a meteoric rise through the ranks in the last three years. The 19-year-old has improved to the point that he was named the Best Emerging Player of the season, after his performance in the I-League.

“I had no idea that I was named the best-emerging player when it was announced. I was in my hometown, where we don’t get much network,” said Nikum, who hails from a small town on the Indo-China border, called Kurung Kumey, in Arunachal Pradesh. Nikum only came to know about the development a day later, when he was informed of the same by his friends.

“I did not believe it first, so I went to an area where we do get network and check it out for myself. Everyone was very happy once I informed them of it,” he said.

While it seems like Nikum has been around for some time, he was not able to play a full season prior to the current campaign. The 19-year-old played 22 matches for Inter Kashi in the I-League, scoring four goals and the same number of assists.

The youngster signed up with Rajasthan United in 2021, and played one and a half seasons at the club, before moving to Mumbai City FC in January 2023. As it was difficult to get game time in a side that challenging for the Indian Super League title, Nikum took a loan move to Inter Kashi, a transfer that seems to have done wonders for him.

“This was the best season I’ve had so far. I didn’t get so many opportunities to play when I was in my first season at Rajasthan United (2021-22), but I think my performances in the next season were quite good, which is why I got the opportunity to play for Mumbai,” Nikum told. “So getting a full season under my belt was important.

“Everyone was very supportive, right from the management, to the coaches, the players, and the support staff. The overall environment at the club was just great, so I really learned a lot. I am very thankful that I got the opportunity to come to this club on loan this season,” said Nikum.

“It was quite difficult for us in the first phase. Took us a fair bit of time to understand our strengths and weaknesses, and figure out how we could operate alongside each other,” said Nikum. “But as we kept playing together, the results started to come, especially in the second half of the league. We grew more confident, and managed to put a good run together.”

Inter Kashi ended the season on an 11-match unbeaten run.

“I did not have much idea about how to go about the whole process. So when I got to know that Rajasthan United are recruiting players for their academy, I contacted them over social media, and they offered me a trial,” said Nikum.

Nikum spent only half a year in the academy, as he was soon drafted into the senior team for the 2021-22 season.

“My parents were initially not too keen on the whole thing, but I convinced them that I wanted to give it a try. Once I made the senior team, they were happy. Now, they are very supportive,” he added.

“The passion and love for football in Arunachal Pradesh is immense. We saw in the Santosh Trophy, how many fans came out to watch the matches, even when Arunachal were not playing,” he said. “People travel from far and wide to watch the Arunachal league and local matches. I feel that there are many talented players there, who have the potential to go to the top level.”

He may only be 19 years old, but Nikum has already become a role model for the aspiring youngsters of Arunachal football.

“I would love to see more players from my state get opportunities to play in the I-League or Indian Super League (ISL). I get a lot of calls from parents who are not sure of what path to take for their kids if they want to get into football. We have not had many from the state who have done well at the top level, so parents are always unsure. But I always try to advise them on what to do. Even if some of them make it to academies and then to clubs after seeing me as an example, I would consider that as a success,” he concluded.

–Ajit Weekly News

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