Kotal, who has so far played 36 matches for India, has seen struggles from close quarters and doesn’t want others to face the hardships he did in his growing years.

Fearing that malnutrition may affect aspiring footballers with poor financial background, India defender Pritam Kotal has launched an academy in collaboration with a few other current players to help the needy realise their dreams.

Kotal, who has so far played 36 matches for India, has seen struggles from close quarters and doesn’t want others to face the hardships he did in his growing years.

“I have seen boys not getting proper food pre and post-training. Even after training, they take meagre rations which are not enough for a budding footballer. It is going to be our loss, Indian football’s loss,” Kotal told the All Indian Football Federation.

“Proper food besides training is the need of the hour for them. One day, when they mature enough, they’ll handhold their juniors. This is a cyclic process to run the show seamlessly,” he stressed.

Having come through the ranks, Kotal is now a regular starter in the Indian team.

“I faced hardship during my childhood. I wish no one faces the same. That’s the reason behind my tiny efforts to lend a hand towards them who need an extra bit of push.

“We were fortunate enough to get support from our seniors. If we don’t give it back to those who need it, then honestly, we don’t deserve to be here where we are today.”

The 26-year old endured the struggle and it helped him build himself block by block to wherever he’s today. He recalled how his parents struggled during his childhood to make both ends meet.
Kotal has also represented India in 10 age-group internationals.

“I didn’t have boots, jerseys, balls. I had to look for others’ help. But my parents used to bear the brunt and safeguard me always.

“It’s like everything in football – and life. You need to look, you need to think, you need to move, you need to find space, you need to help others. It’s very simple in the end,” Kotal said.

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