Jackichand Singh recently signed for Indian Super League (ISL) side Jamshedpur FC on a three-year deal, becoming the first signing for the club since Owen Coyle was appointed as manager.
The Manipuri winger has now revealed the reasons behind his decision to join the Red Miners, his expectations from the season and his playing journey in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda.
Currently in his home in Imphal, Jackichand Singh has been training to keep himself fit during the lockdown. Here is what he had to say about the same:
"It is necessary to stay indoors, we cannot just roam outside. During the initial few days, it was possible to train in the ground nearby. However, everything is closed now. We do go cycling early in the morning. Home workout with dumbles has become a norm now. There is a gymnasium in the billets, we are going there to train and keep ourselves fit."
When he was starting out, Jackichand Singh enrolled in the Army Boys Sports Company Programme, a joint initiative by the Indian Army and the Sports Authority of India (SAI). The programme trains talented young sportspersons and provides service opportunities for the Indian Army.
Jackichand Singh took us down the memory lane and described his journey to the I-League 2nd Division:
"I started playing very early. I took up football when I was a kid. I joined the Army Boys Sports Company, Shillong in 2004 at the age of 12. After 4 years of training at the academy, we made an appearance in the Shillong Premier League 2nd Division in 2008. Royal Wahingdoh Scouts spotted me and I joined them in 2009. I left the Indian Army-SAI programme at the age of 17, despite having a confirmed Indian Army placement."
Jackichand Singh was full of praise for the Royal Wahingdoh owners, who made sure he retained a decent salary so he could pursue football professionally. He said:
"The Wahingdoh owners were great and helped me retain a decent salary to pursue the sport professionally. Hence, I left the Indian Army training programme after 6 years of training and became a full-time footballer at the age of 18."
On the partnership with Seityasen Singh, Jackichand Singh said:
"Seitya (Seityasen Singh) and I have been always been together. We played together, right from our village in Imphal (East). He and I joined the Indian Army – SAI Army Boys Sports Company Programme together to pursue service in the Armed Forces. During the early days, Seitya used to start as a forward up the pitch and I used to play behind him in the central midfield. I used to assist him and he scored."
"However, during our debut season in the I-League 2nd Division in 2011, the coach changed our traditional positions. He went to the left-wing, while I went to the right-wing. Our link-up play was lost but we worked together and got the combination back. Since then we have been inseparable. We have a brilliant sixth sense among each other regarding each other’s position on the field. Our entire initial playing career was together."
When asked about the differences between playing in the I-League and the ISL, Jackichand Singh replied:
"I-League allowed only four foreign players. It allowed more chances to Indian players like us. There was less pressure to perform but to learn. We could experiment and improve our game. However, in the Indian Super League, the experience is quite different. The league earlier had six foreigners, so it was difficult for Indian players to adapt themselves."
The new Jamshedpur FC signing added:
"The league got better with time and the foreigner numbers are decreasing which is a good thing. The foreign players and coaches are technically gifted, which has allowed me to develop my game. We have learnt a lot. ISL also offers better playing and training infrastructure, quality lodging, nutritious food and better pay. ISL is getting better and it is perfect in several ways."
Jamshedpur FC’s Tata Football Academy, club management, fans as well as the city's weather were the key factors behind Jackichand Singh's decision to pick Jamshedpur FC over other clubs.
Speaking of what led to the choice, Jackichand Singh said:
"I had transfer offers from other clubs as well. However, I chose Jamshedpur FC, because the project looked exciting and promising. The city has nice weather, which is something very important to me. In football, climate plays a very big role in player development. When we visited Jamshedpur for away games in previous editions of the ISL, there was absolute frenzy in the city. Kids used to come and watch our training. Jamshedpur FC is a very professional club, they hosted away teams very well."
Jackichand Singh added that he had always wanted to play in an esteemed academy when he was younger but never had the opportunity to do so. He subsequently joined Jamshedpur FC to complete this wish.
Speaking of the Tata Football Academy, Jackichand Singh said:
"Tata Football Academy is also one of the reasons, I chose Jamshedpur FC over other clubs. When I was in Army Boys Sports Company, there was always an objective to go on to play in the Tata Football Academy. Tata Football Academy was and is one of the best football academies in India. I could not play in the esteemed academy and I have come to complete my wish now. I would like to experience the Tata Football Academy."
When asked about his expectations with regards to working with Owen Coyle and Nerijus Valskis, Jackichand Singh expressed his excitement saying:
"Owen Coyle surprised everyone in the previous season. Chennaiyin had a late splurge in form and qualified for the semi-finals by winning almost all games in the business end of the season. It was impressive and I am looking forward to playing under such an approach. I am waiting for pre-season to begin. Nerujis Valskis was also in excellent form last season. He is a striker and I am winger. I will assist him for many goals which he will surely score. I am looking forward to forming a combination upfront with him. The pre-season is a few weeks away and I am excited."
Speaking of the most memorable game in his career, Jackichand Singh said:
"The most memorable game for me on the positive side would be India vs Laos game in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifiers in 2016 at Guwahati. We were losing 1-0 till the 40th minute. I was substituted in, and we scored two quick goals, thanks to my assists. I assisted one more goal in the second half, taking my tally to 3 assists in less than 50 minutes. We won the game 6-1. I was elated and proud after that game."
Jackichand Singh also spoke about how the 2019 ISL final against Bengaluru FC is a game he will never forget. He recalled:
"However, on the negative side, the ISL 2019 final with Bengaluru FC in Mumbai was the game, I will never forget. We (FC Goa) played brilliantly throughout the season but stumbled upon in the final. We lost the game 1-0 due to Rahul Bheke scoring the only goal. We were devastated after the game."Published 25 Aug 2020, 09:54 IST