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Wanted to prove I can play in ISL, says Hormipam Ruivah

Published at :August 11, 2022 at 8:28 PM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : KBFC Media)

Sattyik Sarkar

The defender spoke of his excitement to play in front of fans next season.

Everything is this world has a starting point, be it life or an organisation or a career. In the previous Indian Super League season, we saw the upsurge of a young, talented central defender. His exploits in the ISL even compelled national team head coach Igor Stimac to include him in the side for the friendlies. The year 2021 remained witness to a 21-year-old Hormipam Ruivah.

Recently, Khel Now got on a chat with him. Here is what he had to say.

Pressure as a debutant

Hormipam Ruivah made his Indian Super League debut against the then defending champions Mumbai City. Usually, youngsters remained tensed and under pressure in such a situation. However, Ruivah was different. He said, “I was not thinking much about whom I was facing, except for the specific inputs our coaches had shared.

"I was thinking more about my first chance, I was waiting for it desperately and wanted to prove that I am capable of playing in the ISL. Yes, there was pressure to do well. But, these are the things a player faces day in and day out. I was confident about myself as a player and I had given everything in training. I had great, experienced partners around me, so that helped me a lot,” added the youngster.

Overall ISL experience

After his debut, the 21-year-old made 14 appearances in the competition. He shared his experience with Khel Now. He started, “I fell in love with the game even more. This season was such a great experience - the highs and the lows, the injury and the comeback, it was one big happy family. Since the last couple of seasons we have been missing the fans, but that is going to change soon.”

“Every match was a different experience and with each passing game my confidence grew stronger, as I knew that the coach believed in me and the team believed in me. There were many mistakes I made, but I was lucky we got away with it. But, I ensured that I learned from it,” the defender added.

Influence of Ivan Vukomanovic

After taking the driver’s seat at Kerala Blasters last season, Ivan Vukomanovic injected a freshness into the squad. His tutelage helped in cultivation of young talents like Ayush Adhikari, Puitea, Prabhsukhan Singh Gill and others. Hormipam Ruivah wasn’t an exception. The tactician had been using him since the Durand Cup 2021.

Hormipam Ruivah won the Emerging Player of the Month in March. (Courtesy: KBFC Media)

Ruivah shed light on the influence of Vukomanovic on him, “I can’t thank him enough. He himself has been a defender, so you can imagine, how many vital inputs he has given me. He gave me a lot of confidence and I thank him for the opportunity, as I didn’t think at the start of the season that I will get so many opportunities and so much of game-time. Also, he is very positive, which helps a lot with the atmosphere in training and in the bubble.”

On Next Gen Cup

Hormipam Ruivah recently participated in the Next Gen Cup. The team played against Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal palace in the event. Unfortunately, they lost both the games and ended fourth in the competition. Ruivah shared his experience, “It was an eye opener! We saw a lot of difference in us and them. Like the tempo of the game the physicality. They just kept coming at us and we couldn’t catch a break. It’s one thing to see the difference on TV and completely another when you face them. They are really strong.

“I hope we can put up a better show next time. Apart from that the facilities were super good they had 18+ grounds for training and all the grounds are top notch. There is so much more, but I am just frustrated with the results so much. It was a massive learning experience for us,” he added.

Emerging as first-choice defender

The Manipuri wasn’t the first-choice at the club. The Blasters had better options than him. As a youngster, it is also really difficult to cope with the duties and expectations this young. The 21-year-old said, “I knew that from before that I wouldn’t be the first-choice. Before arriving, I was feeling that I would be lucky to get a few minutes here and there and a start would be wonderful. But then, I got my opportunity and I never want to let it go."

He went on to say, “I was down with the injury that time as well I was confident if I recovered fast, I would play again. I was helped a lot by my teammates during the process. I don’t take the pressure from outside, I put enough pressure on myself to do well and stay focused.”

Preparation to don the national colours

Hormipam Ruivah spoke on the national team call-up. He stated, “National team call-up was great! To share dressing rooms with the bigwigs it’s always good and there is a different pride when you play for the country. It’s not that I have not been in the setup, I was part of the Arrows and the SAFF teams, but senior team is different. The seriousness and just the work-ethic, the atmosphere is different. It takes time to get used to it and one has to settle into it."

Hormipam Ruivah played 14 matches in the ISL last season. (Courtesy: KBFC Media)

The national team currently has many centre-backs in the form of Sandesh Jhingan, Anwar Ali and Chinglensana Singh. At times, the head coach also uses Pritam Kotal, Subhasish Bose and Rahul Bheke in that position. When asked about the competition to grab a place in the national team, Ruivah replied, “Yes, the competition is huge. They have so much of experience. I need to learn from them a lot and then maybe if I prove myself, I will get in there. I am sure my time will come and I will grab it.”

Pressure playing in front of fans

Kerala Blasters have perhaps one of the largest fanbases in the country. Apart from the ISL finale, Hormipam Ruivah is yet to feature in front of the fans at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. Will the youngster be under pressure? The defender opines, “Football is nothing without fans. I can recall the final match of last season. It was like our stadium altogether. It’s a great feeling. Fans will push you for every square inch and that can add pressure, but I feel they have good knowledge of the game and they understand the possibilities during the game, so that way they are more helpful.”

The 21-year-old seemed very excited to play in front of the fans. He quipped, “I am ready to witness how it feels to play with 1 lakh+ eyes glued to your every move. That will happen this season at Kochi and I am too excited about it. I have visions about how it will feel when we first walk down the tunnel and the stands would be literally vibrating.”

Goals for the season

Improving himself is definitely a part, but Ruivah had something more to add. He even shared his dream with us. “To do even better! Possibly do the double that’s our aim as a team. Personally, I want to win matches and yes for that I will focus at my role to keep clean-sheets. A dream come true will be to score my first goal and celebrate till the next morning,” he said.

Message for the fans

The defender concluded the session by sharing a message for the fans. He said, “Can’t wait to see them in numbers and feel the love. This time we will perform better and to your delight we wish to pick up silverware. Keep supporting us loud and proud!”