It all happened in a flash. Jeakson Singh headed his way into the history books as he became the first scorer for India in a World Cup when his fantastic header found the back of the Colombian goal. The 16-year-old’s goal in the under 17 World Cup match was not a mere personal achievement but a milestone for Indian football. These 6 ft 2” tall Jeakson’s textbook header was the sole talking point for many tv channels and sports pages.
Passion for football is one thing that Jeakson had in ample. Evidence of this came when, as a child, he refused to eat food for a couple of days when told by his parents that he would have to stop playing and concentrate on his studies. After all he was a topper in his class and his parents wanted him to opt for more secure avenues.
Recalling that day, Jeakson said he was used to play non stop football in a small ground near his house. “Seeing this my mother and father were so concerned that I was neglecting my studies and my mother came up to me and said that from now on my football was all over. I was so unhappy that for the next two days I went on complete fasting and my parents were forced to withdraw the threat,” he said with a chuckle.
Interestingly, Jeakson was a topper in the same school where the current captain of the Indian team Amarjit Singh was also studying. “Myself and Amarjit were studying in the same school. We were friends and our association has grown over the years,” said Jeaskon.
Not surprisingly, it was his mother Bilashini who was a picture of total happiness after her son scored against Colombia. “We had not thought he would score a goal but suddenly it happened and I was having goosebumps. We were happy thinking that our son played for India and even scored a goal. In the next minute, even before the celebrations died down, they (Colombians) scored. It was a bit let down. It was very sad. It would have been better had India won,” she said.
She also said that her phone had not stopped ringing ever since Jeakson’s header. “My phone has not stopped ringing since then. My relatives and friends from Manipur have been congratulating us for Jeakson scoring the goal,” said Bilashini, who sells clothes in Imphal, 25 km from her home, to earn a livelihood for her family.
She said her family›s financial condition is such that she is having problems to bear the incidental expenses during their stint here. “We cannot ask the AIFF (the Indian football federation) to bear the cost of everything, we cannot ask them to pay for small personal spendings. But for us, it›s a financial issue for even incidental expenses here. We have to restrict ourselves in personal spending.
“We are poor and we have come here to watch our son play but it is a burden on us. We have suffered a lot of difficulties but Jeakson is playing at the World Cup level, so momentarily we are forgetting those hardships.”
Jeakson and Amarjit are cousins and had both left for Chandigarh in 2010 as nine year olds and were admitted to the Chandigarh Football Academy. Later, Amarjit was selected for India U-17 camp in the AIFF Academy in Goa in 2015. Jeakson joined the camp in March.