The rectangular patch of green grass means the world to most football players. While they weave their way around opponents in search of a goal, India midfielder Amarjit Singh Kiyam has found another patch of green that he is quite drawn to during the off-seasons — the paddy fields.
For the former India under-17 FIFA World Cup captain, helping out his family on their farm near Imphal is more of an opportunity for him to go back to his roots.
“It’s a different kind of field. But for me, it is like going back to my roots. My family has been farming paddy for so many generations. Although I have sort of moved away from that, in my life as a footballer, I still like to get back to it whenever I can,” Amarjit told the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) official website.
“It is somewhat different out on the paddy field after a hard season. The football pitch is all about the hustle and bustle and the chaos. But out here on the paddy field, it’s all so calm and serene. It’s really quite refreshing,” he said.
The 20-year-old Amarjit feels that this is one way of giving back to his family, who made a lot of sacrifices for him. He had even helped his family last year post the lockdown but this year he took the next step.
The knowledge of the soil and the plough is another thing that Amarjit is soaking in while working with his family on the fields, which makes it learning on two fronts for him – football and farming.
“This is my little way of giving back to my family. My parents had sacrificed so much when I was a kid, to help me play football. spending a few hours during the lockdown to help them on the paddy field is nothing compared to that,” Amarjit said.
Generally, the young midfielder does not get much opportunity to spend time at home, even during the offseason. However, with all the footballing activities coming to an end after the season due to the second wave of the COVID-19 virus, Amarjit is currently at home.
“Generally, when it’s the off-season in club football, we have International matches and the time spent at home is even less. It is an absolute honour to don the National Team jersey but one does like to spend time at home, and these last two years, I have got the opportunity to do that,” he said.
Amarjit’s AFC experience with FC Goa
While Amarjit has not had the most memorable of seasons in 2020-21 in the ISL due to an injury, the 20-year-old had another experience of a lifetime, when he appeared for FC Goa in the AFC Champions League – the first time an Indian team was playing in the tournament.
“I’ve had a somewhat difficult season, as I have spent a lot of time recovering from an injury. But it has been a good experience in FC Goa so far. I also got to play in the AFC Champions League which was a great experience for us. We stepped up really well and produced some good results,” he continued.
It may be the offseason, but the youngster is working double shifts, training in the morning, while sweating it out on the paddy fields later on.
“Yes, it’s hard work. I still practice in the mornings, but labouring on the paddy field makes for a good pre-season workout,” laughed Amarjit.
“At the end of the day, it is something that you get to learn. I have been playing at the academy (AIFF Elite Academy) since I was a kid, and we have had to learn so much about the game,” he stated.
“But we need to learn and be inquisitive about other things too — in order to become better human beings. I enjoy learning new things, and farming is definitely one of the things that’s right up there, after football of course.”