The players met spent a day with their parents ahead of the Iran game…

The parents are here and understandably they are the loudest cheerleaders. After all, it’s their sons who are representing India in the ongoing AFC U-16 Championship in Goa.

Understanding the pain of parents staying away from their sons that too at such a tender age, the All India Football Federation brought them over to meet the players ahead of the crucial game against Iran.

Mohammed Khoro, Mohammed Rakip’ father, prefers to talk less. But he couldn’t hide his delight after meeting his son for the first time in over six months.

“I could not hold back my tears on seeing my son after 6-7 months. They have been constantly travelling and we only get to hear about them through the AIFF website, social media handles and newspapers. But when I saw him after a long time, it was a different feeling.”

The soft-hearted man that Coach Nicolai Adam is, the boys were given a day off to meet and spend time with their parents. “It’s important that they get football out of their head for the day. Their parents are here. Let them go and meet them,” he said

The boys were sitting at a distance and hearing their parents speak. You couldn’t miss the sparkle in their eyes. They were their parents after all.

Khumanthem Manglemba Meetei, father of the jovial midfielder Ninthoi, reiterated the feeling saying, “Off course we miss our son. But the fact that he’s representing our country gives us a sublime feeling. We know it could not have been possible without AIFF’s help. Hope that our boys pay back the faith entrusted in them.”

The story takes a surprising turn when you interact with C.P. Shangkailal Aimol, father of Aimol Chongampipa who returned to India with a broken shinbone – an injury which he suffered during the match against MSV Duisburg on the team’s exposure tour in Germany.

“I know that my son is not even able to stand properly, let alone play football. Still I came to Goa. What if my son isn’t playing? Other boys are playing. I want to see them win. They are also my sons, aren’t they?”

“Thank you AIFF,” the parents said in chorus.

By then it was time for the boys to say goodbye as they had to be at the team hotel by dinner time. The parents hugged them and the boys hugged them more. From a distance you watched – maybe your eyes were a bit moist, maybe for that split second, your heart cried.