"Basically, football chose me" - In Conversation with Bengaluru FC Starlet Gursimrat Singh
Gursimrat Singh Gill is one of the most promising talents in Indian football at present. Born in a small village called Sarabha in the Ludhiana district of Punjab, he has grown through the ranks of Chandigarh Football Academy and the AIFF Elite club to play for Bengaluru FC in the ISL.
He represented the U-19 national side in 2014 and signed his first senior contract with Bengaluru in 2016. After one season with NorthEast United in the 2017-18 edition, the centre-back is back with the Karnataka-based club.
Physical, quick across the ground and a man who reads the pace and flow of the game astutely, Singh is working tirelessly with his side as they aim to bring the trophy after having missed out in the final last term.
We caught up with him for an exclusive chat and here's what he had to say about his personal career, the BFC team and the football in India.
Q: Good to have you here speaking to us, Sir! Firstly, how have you come about your footballing journey? Take us through your days at the Chandigarh Academy and the AIFF Elite campaign.
I joined CFA in 2007 and was there till 2012 - these were the (most) amazing five years of learning for me from the best Harjinder Singh (former India captain and the coach). I enjoyed every bit of that time. Then in 2012 I joined the AIFF Academy system and was there till 2015. It was one step forward for me towards my aim and I got to play a number of international matches, which turned me into a better and (more) matured player.
Q: What inspired you to be a football player? Have you played at another position other than centre-back in your career?
There was the presence of sports in my family as my Nana Ji (maternal grandfather) was a hockey player in the Indian Army and so is my dad. But my village (Sarabha) is very famous for football in Ludhiana region, so basically, football chose me.
Yes, I started as a winger and then a defensive midfielder and at present, I can play as a centre-back and right-back.
Q: How do you think the SAFF U-19 Championship aided your development?
SAFF U-19 was very helpful in my career. It was in Nepal and (there was) a huge crowd - mostly against us. It taught me very well how to soak pressure and play your game calmly.
Q: How does it feel to be back with Bengaluru FC this season? And moreover, what are your expectations from the boys and yourself?
Bengaluru FC was my first professional sports club and if feels like home here.
Expectations are always high in this club, no one wants to settle for anything lesser or other than the best we can get (achieve). We are going for the championship and the team is putting in a lot of work for that.
Q: How does the presence of players such as Sunil Chhetri and Miku help you as a professional? What do they bring to the dressing room?
Having personalities like Sunil bhai and Miku around me is always a plus point and (a source of) motivation. They give you all the important information they have gained through their experience.
They never let you feel low and keep you motivated all the time.
Q: Which match in your career according to you has been your best performance? And, why so?
It was last to last year against Churchill Brothers. We (BFC) won the game 3-0 and I assisted the first goal. It was special because it was the last match of Bengaluru FC in league history and the atmosphere created by West Block Blues was unreal.
Q: What do you think of BFC's chances this season? How are the preparations leading up to their quest to the title?
We have all the chances to win it. We started well and the team is giving its all (100%) in training and in matches.
Q: According to you, how big a stage is the ISL for the development of Indian football?
ISL is helping a lot in the growth of football in India in terms of quality telecast. (It is also helping the development by) bringing in quality foreigners and coaches.
Q: If you were to partner any centre-back, from any nation, across any generation, who would you choose to play alongside?
None other than the 'idol' - Sergio Ramos.
Q: Lastly, if you had to provide a few motivational words to young, budding footballers in India, who are the part of the ever-increasing competition, what would they be?
I just want to tell them - keep your head down and keep working hard. No matter what, don't lose your patience, the time will definitely come.