For those watching the matches in Nepal’s Martyrs League this season, one of the top players thus far has been G’Five Machhindra FC defender Rohit Chand. The defender has put in a series of sparkling performances and has shown why he was the youngest player ever to represent the Nepali national team.
Chand’s play has brought him four Man of the Match awards during the league campaign and his play at the back has been one of the highlights of Machhindra’s season. The young stopper has led a defense that doesn’t leak too many goals, but he also can be a threat moving up the pitch.
This is the last of our three-part focus on Machhindra FC, an innovative club in Nepal that is growing all the time and appears to be on the cusp of challenging for the league title in the next year or two. Read on for our interview with Rohit Chand. Chand’s dreams, views on the game, and description of the sport in Nepal are worthwhile reading as we get a glimpse into the life of a footballer in Nepal and his aspirations for the future.
So enjoy our interview with Rohit Chand, a player who captains his club side at the tender age of 19. Chand is a player who represents the future of football in Nepal and many tip him as a sure bet to make a career abroad in the years to come.
One Game, One World: What made you want to become a footballer?
Rohit Chand: At the age of 8 I used to play football with my brother who is a good football player. His concentration, enthusiasm and all time persuading behavior helped me to become a footballer and today I am.
How did you get your start in football ?
Though I used to play football in my childhood at the age of 12 I was selected by the ANFA Academy which is the only football training academy of Nepal. From that time I began my football career.
Do you have any nick names?
My family members call me BABU, but most recognize me as Rohit.
What are your goals and aspirations for the remainder of your career?
My main goal is to play football in Europe as a professional footballer. I played all the major national and international football tournaments that have been held in the South Asian Region. My dream is to be a professional football player and want to make my country proud by being a good footballer abroad someday. I have faith that I will one day fulfill with my dreams.
What is your greatest achievement in your football career? Your biggest disappointment ?
I am the youngest ever footballer to represent my country Nepal. At the age of 16 I got a golden opportunity to wear the national jersey against Palestine. That remains my greatest personal achievement.
When we lost our game against Jordan in AFC U-19 Championship, that was my greatest disappointment. Jordan were reduced to 9-men and we couldn’t defeat them.
If you were not a footballer what would you have been?
I can’t imagine myself to be far from football in life. But you have an “if” question so if I were not a footballer I could perhaps be an army officer.
What coach do you consider the best you have worked under ?
Mr. Raju kaji Shakya is the best coach I worked under. He has got good skills, technique and is an inspiring character. He was our U-19 national team coach.
What are your favourite and least favourite aspects of playing football?
Football is the most popular game in Nepal. Everybody loves football and football players. Football helps me to be recognized by many people in the country. This is perhaps a positive and my favorite aspect.
The negative aspect is that in Nepal there is a lack of opportunity to learn to play professional football. We always play our football under a local coach instead of foreign coach. We don’t have many opportunities to play friendly matches against other countries. Basically we have a lack of proper training for playing at the highest level.
How does it feel to pull on the national team jersey of Nepal?
I felt so proud to be a part of national team of Nepal. It was the moment that my dreams came true and a truly unforgettable event of my life.
What can the national team achieve, do you think it is realistic to think about qualifying for a major tournament like the Asian Cup?
The National Team of Nepal is in progressive form, we are constantly improving. Recently we were at 153rd position from 173rd in the FIFA Rankings. If we get an opportunity to play football across the country and have proper training from good, experienced foreign coaches one day we will be one of the top teams in Asia. Nothing is impossible.
Who are the best players you have played with or against during your games for Nepal and Machhindra FC ?
Maldives player Asfhak Ali is my best player. I played with him in the SAF Championship in 2009. Machhindra’s Rupesh K.C is my all time best teammate. He is very good and very much plays a power game.
The Maldives’ Asfhak Ali and Jumanu Rai of Nepal are the toughest attackers I have faced. Both are very good in the technical and power aspects of their game.
How would you describe the football conditions in the country ?
Due to political instability my country Nepal has greatly suffered. The league had closed for three years recently due to conflict between the sports personnel regarding the different divisions’ games. But now the conditions seem to be better for football to develop.
We don’t have any good foreign coaching, though our national team is playing good football in South Asian and AFC qualifying games. In order to make big improvements in the quality of our football our political condition first and foremost should be improved.
Have you seen good development in football in Nepal over the years ?
Yes the development in football in Nepal is growing day to day. The different international invitational and national level games are more and more organized and come with incentives such as big cash prizes. There is plans and ongoing construction of football stadiums in different cities of Nepal. Just as slow and steady wins the race; one day we will also become a strong team.
How would you rate the quality of play in the Martyrs League?
The quality of play in the Martyrs League seems to be better than in the previous league campaigns. Our football ground is not so good as players are struggling to produce the good football they are capable of.
Can Machhindra FC win the title in the next couple years ?
Definitely. Machhindra FC will win the title in the next couple of years. The club is a little different than others as MFC is targeting a good mix of local and foreign players and good coach for the next league season. The players are self motivated and hard working which means that they are result oriented. One day we will see Machhindra lifting the league title.
What do you think about the 2010 World Cup? Who are the favorites? Which team would you like to see succeed?
The 2010 World Cup will be so important for me as I will get an opportunity to learn more football knowledge that can only help me in boosting up my own football career. I can learn more about the management and tactics, which can be very useful to us in Nepal.
My favorite teams are Brazil and Japan. Brazil is the team I would like to see at the top when it is all over. I love the teamwork of the Brazilian team.
Will you stay in football at the end of your career ?
Football is in my blood. I can’t imagine my life without football. I will always be in touch with football whether I will get success or not. My football experiences will stay with me until the end of my life.
Why is football the world’s most popular sport?
Football has a historical story. Football is the most popular sport because it has an attractive amount of strategy, planning, management and skills. Football has its own excitement and sorrow which people are drawn to most. Almost more than half of the world’s population like to watch football matches. It is easily understandable by the people as it a simple game.
What does football mean to you?
Like our football legend Pele’s book ” My Life and the Beautiful Game” shows his dedication towards football; in my life the most valuable and precious thing is my football. Football is my life.