I-League: Bidyashagar ‘living the dream’ after return to TRAU FC

Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) have impressed with positive performances in the I-League 2020-21 season so far, having suffered just one loss in their seven games as they sit in third place on the points table with seven rounds played.

A key figure for them has been winger Bidyashagar Singh, who first joined the club as a 16-year-old youth player and has now returned to the side as they compete for the I-League crown in their second season.

“I was 16 years old when I first joined TRAU and I got a lot of experience from my time then as I got to learn from the top Manipuri players at the time,” Bidyashagar told www.i-league.org.

“Coming back to play for them in the I-League is a dream come true. I had always dreamed to play for TRAU and representing them in the I-League now is a great opportunity. It is a very special feeling, especially since I am playing for a team in my home state for the first time in this league,” he added.

With 10 points in seven games, TRAU are front-runners for the race to finish in the top 6. Bidyashagar has emerged as an important player for the team, scoring two goals and clocking over 641 minutes on the field — the most by any player in his position in the league.

“The season has been very good for me so far, with two goals and two hero of the match trophies. I hope to do well in the remaining matches and win games for my team. We are nothing about being title contenders and are just focused on winning every match as it comes. Our coach (Nandakumar Singh) is very good too and keeps the team morale and bonding levels high,” he said.

“There is no secret about TRAU doing well. It is about hard work and dedication. Apart from some senior players, most players are young – so all the time we motivate each other. From the start of the season, we wanted to be in good shape and have been working hard since pre-season time. All the foreigners are very good and keep the spirits in the team high. Football is the universal language, so we have no problems in communication too,” he added.

The 22-year-old, who is from Samaram Mayai Leikai in Manipur, looked back on his journey through the years and expressed gratitude to former Indian women’s national team player Irom Prameshwori Devi — terming her as a ‘major influence’ on his career.

“I come from a middle-class family and they have always given me their full support. I started playing football with my friends in my locality. A major influence on me has been of Irom Prameshwori Devi, who hails from the same locality and has represented the Indian women’s national team. She is like an elder sister to me,” he shared.

Bidyashagar already has prior experience of playing at the I-League level with East Bengal, having made 11 appearances for them in the competition. He was also among the standout players in the 2019 Durand Cup, scoring five goals for the Red and Golds.

“When I was in 10th standard, I was really motivated to play football and wanted to go outside Manipur to play. I read about East Bengal wanted to sign Manipuri players, so I gave trials for them,” he said.