With two goals and several near misses, Jackychand Singh made quite an impressive Federation Cup debut against Mumbai FC on Sunday. Playing for Royal Wahingdoh FC, which makes its first I-League appearance this season, he helped clinch their first win in top-flight football.
Son of agricultural labourers, Jackychand hails from the tribal belt of Thoubal district in Manipur. Facing a hard life since childhood, Jackie found solace in football.
He made the sport his own and has managed to rise up the ranks in his small town.
"I come from a very humble family and am very thankful to my family for supporting me in this journey. The family lived hand to mouth and football was the only release," Jackychand said. "Every day, I would take the yield to the market. On the way, I would see kids playing and soon started playing; it all started there.
"Football is a big draw in Manipur and sport is a way of life. My coach as a child was Lokendra Singh who got me into the game. Soon fortune favoured me and I was spotted by scouts who brought me to Shillong and later with Wahingdoh," added the 22-year-old.
In Shillong, Jacky, as he is fondly called, played with Wahingdoh in the second division of the Shillong Premier League. Since then, Jacky and Wahingdoh have together climbed the ladder of success. In the 2013-14 season, while Wahingdoh won the second division to qualify for the I-league, Jackychand was the division's top-Indian goal-scorer.
On Sunday, Wahingdoh scored his first goal in top-flight football, then added another to help his side beat Mumbai FC to get their Federation Cup off to a winning start.
"It has been a surreal few seasons. There is still a lot to achieve. I do not know anything but football. Hope is to continue on this note and achieve more for Wahingdoh in the I-League," Jackychand said.