The youngster can’t recall when exactly the sport went from a pass-time to a passion.

Suresh Singh Wangjam never did realize the moment his favourite recreational hobby became his sole purpose of life. It was bewildering for a kid who could not understand how the transition happened. There was amazement in the process, but still a bit of fear, after all, it were just baby steps in his passion – football.

“When I first started playing football, it was just to pass time. When it used to rain everyone in our neighbourhood used to gather and play football in the field. But when there were summers, I switched to cricket or some other sport. It was never just football for me,” says Suresh.

From everything it became one thing eventually. “Gradually football started appealing to me and I don’t even remember how I fell in love with the sport. I used to feel uneasy when I was not playing football. It became a habit.”

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Is football still a habit? “Football is more than a habit, it is a way of life for me at the moment. Everything I do revolves around it and I am fortunate enough to represent my nation, I dream of playing for the Indian Senior National Team.

An athlete can relate to an athlete and Suresh’s father, a badminton player, was always supportive of his son’s strides in football. “My father was always there for me and he supported me a lot. My mother and sisters were a bit protective of me and they did not want me to pursue football, but my father always wanted me to play for the nation.”

So if not a footballer, what did Suresh’s mother want him to become? “An officer in the defence forces. But I guess even playing is a way to serve your nation,” he quips.