The 19-year-old is raring to make himself known in the elite league next season.

Much has changed since last season at FC Goa after they finished on top of the league table, starting from coach to players. Yet, the philosophy of the club remains the same – to promote young and prodigious talents in the country. One of such latest acquisition at FC Goa is Phrangki Buam.

The 19-year-old versatile forward was forged at the renowned Shillong Lajong academy and later represented the senior team in the Shillong Premier League and also in the I-League. He impressed in the latter, scoring six goals and leading the attack for the eventually relegated outfit.

However, his beginning as a player wasn’t that smooth as he learnt the ropes at Sports Authority of India. “At a very young age, I was always interested in sports, especially football. I was always interested in the game and when I was around 11 in 2012, the Sports Authority of India had arranged for a trial for their U-14 team. I wanted to go, but my mom said I was too little in size and was worried that I would get beat up,” he said in an exclusive conversation with Khel Now.

“My uncle helped convince my parents and it all started from there. I stayed with SAI until 2015. In 2015, I joined Royal Wahingdoh, was there for two seasons. In 2017, I joined Shillong Lajong, won a lot of trophies, scored goals and experienced relegation in my three years from 2017 and 2020,” the youngster added.

Lajong are known as a hub for producing many talented players and Phrangki Buam is one among them. When asked about the academy, the youngster was full of praise and lauded them for believing in young players. “I have always had the plan that one day I would become a professional footballer and I decided to join Shillong Lajong for the same. However, I never thought that I will get a chance to play in the I-League at such a young age.”

“The academy has produced many talented young players over the years and I would like to thank Shillong Lajong for giving a chance to so many young players to play in the I-League. That’s what makes them special for me, because not only did they give me a chance but a number of others. In football, sometimes that’s all you need,” he stated.

Buam’s calibre was first realized in the Shillong Premier League and it was in his native state (Meghalaya) where the young forward gained prominence. “The Shillong Premier League is not easy to play. There are a lot of talented players there. It’s one step away from getting noticed and picking up your first big contract and that’s what drives us.”

WATCH: Phrangki Buam’s goals in Shillong Premier League 2019

Since Lajong were relegated from the I-League, Buam wanted to rub shoulders with players at the national level and also wanted game-time, so he made a loan move to FC Bengaluru United and featured in the Second Division League. There he played at a higher level under the watchful eyes of Richard Hood and Gouramangi Singh. He believes the stint will help him in his future endeavours.

“Last season, I made the move on loan to FC Bengaluru United for two very clear reasons. One was to gain more game-time at the national level and to improve myself. I feel I need to play more games in order to improve myself before going to the highest level of Indian football.”

“It was a new challenge, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. I had a great experience with FC Bengaluru United. It was my first club that I played for outside Meghalaya, even if it was just for a few months. I learnt a lot from Richard Hood and Gouramangi Singh. So, it was a fruitful experience for me.”

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Now, with little experience of playing outside Meghalaya, opting for FC Goa might have been a task for the young forward. However, he feels that it is the right move for him. “Before taking this decision, I took a long time for me to judge if FC Goa would be a good club for me. After a lot of deliberation, I think I made the right decision to move to FC Goa.”

The former Shillong Lajong man relishes being part of a unit which believes in youth and feels that there are also some big names which can bring the Gaurs success this season. “I am very excited to be joining one of the best youth setups in the country at FC Goa. There are experienced, big-name players in the squad and we have a number of youngsters pushing them and pushing each other every day in practice. I think we have a great mix. I can’t wait for the season to start,” Buam added.

After toiling for years in Shillong and even in the I-League, Phrangki Buam will get to prove his worth in the ISL. However, between him and the biggest echelon of Indian football stands the daunting competition of talented players in his position, some even having years of experience. When asked about the sudden rise in competition, the 19-year old feels that he will adapt and get better with time.

“That’s pretty usual. As a footballer, I will have to accept and adapt to play in a higher competition where the players are better. I have the confidence to play at a higher level and I am seeking to get better every day to play at the higher level. I will try my best and keep working hard to improve in each and every training session.”

“I think FC Goa is the best club for a youngster like me and I will give my 100% in training and also on matchdays, if I get a chance to play,” Phrangki Buam concluded.

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