Rahul KP has said that Goa is his second home…
Ahead of 2020-21 season of Indian Super League (ISL), Rahul KP is in a hotel room in Goa, hundreds of kilometres away from Kochi, because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The same pandemic that has put several industries in disarray has affected the football world as well. Even as football leagues around the world resumed (without spectators), India’s ascend in terms of the number of affected cases continued and it meant footballers have had to take of themselves for more than six months. Simply put, they have also had to ‘work from home’.
Rahul, who recently signed a contract extension that will keep him at Kerala Blasters till 2025, got to spend time with his family for the first time since he set out to pursue his football dream. He started all three of India U-17’s group games in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017, played for Indian Arrows in the I-League and then earned a contract at Blasters.
“The lockdown was a very different experience for me since I haven’t stayed this long with my family, ever since I left to pursue my footballing dreams with the 2017 U-17 FIFA World Cup preparation camp. It had its pros and cons,” Rahul told Goal from Goa.
“I’m very happy to have gotten quality moments with my family, time to introspect on myself, understand my weaknesses, sufficient time to recover from my injuries from last season, work harder on my fitness and mentally prepare for the upcoming season. But not being able to train on the field, having to work out all by yourself at home and also supplement the same with a proper diet has been a challenge.
“However, I do understand that the times were such that it required all of us to stay at home, not just for our personal safety, but also for the safety of our loved ones and I’m happy to have done my part. Although the past six months have been a mixed bag of emotions, it is now time to get back with the team, train hard, maintain fitness levels and proper diets and get back on schedule for yet another challenging season.”
The lockdown has forced the organizers of the league to zoom in on a centralised venue and get players into a bio-secure bubble. The challenges ahead of Rahul include getting fit, learning the new manager’s philosophy and adapting to new surroundings, none of which is concerning for the young winger.
“Although I haven’t worked under Kibu in the past, I’m eagerly looking forward to training and learn new techniques and tactics with him. We used to have online team meetings during the lockdown and I’m keen to prove myself on the field. I’m confident that the coach has a definitive plan for the squad and also for every player. I hope to showcase the best of my abilities for the overall achievement of the club’s goals for the season.
“Goa is my second home. I have a lot of friends and family here at Goa, similar to Kerala, who only hope for my best. They are my biggest motivation. It is a challenge that I may not be able to see them due to the safety regulations of the league, but I’m happy that they are around. I have a very strong emotional connect with Goa that words can’t explain. While I truly miss my home and the yellow sea at our home stadium, I’m ready to take up this challenge because challenges define a person, helps you get better and is the only way to know how tough you are.”