I-League: Alfred Jaryan, the Aizawl FC player who stayed back

Liberian midfielder Alfred Jaryan, who came to Aizawl FC in 2015, decided to not leave the Mizoram football club after they won the I-League last season.

football Updated: Jan 24, 2018 22:44 IST
Sarthak Bal
Sarthak Bal
Hindustan Times, Aizawl
I-League,Aizawl FC,Alfred Jaryan
Alfred Jaryan is a key player for the reigning I-League champions Aizawl FC.(HT Photo)

For football fans in Mizoram, Alfred Jaryan is the player who stayed. Aizawl FC winning the I-League last year was a fairytale story of a tiny club overcoming massive odds to lift their maiden trophy, but the limelight that it brought also brought in lucrative offers for its leading players which resulted in an exodus.

Mizoram’s finest prospects -- Lalramchullova, Brandon Vanlalremdika, Laldanmawia and Syrian midfield maestro Mahmoud Al-Amna along side coach Khalid Jamil – all invaluable and integral to the Aizawl’s success, found better opportunities further in-land; joining Kolkata giants East Bengal for the ongoing season.

However, Jaryan, a Liberian midfielder who came to India in 2012, and to Aizawl FC in 2015 after two seasons with Mohammedan Sporting during which he helped them to qualify back in to I-League, decided against moving despite attractive offers.

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“As a professional footballer, you are always looking to do better. And there were a lot of other offers from clubs and agents,” Jaryan said in an interview.

“But you have to know where you can find comfort that can make you express yourself to the best. You need be in a peaceful state of mind. You have to try and earn the respect of the fans and the club. Of course we (footballers) look at the money, but I decided to stay because I found more comfort in this region,” said Aizawl’s midfield-rock.

Football fields and church buildings stand out in Aizawl -- a city that has spread itself amidst the lush green Lushai Hills. And the far-reaching presence of both religion and sport seemed to work best for Jaryan. “I am Christian and this state is almost 90 percent Christian. I go to the church every Sunday. So it’s the comfort and not just the money and big name clubs. This is like my second home now. The people and the club are very close to my heart.”

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“The fans are peaceful. They are loving and caring people. They know we give our best and they will always be there for us. We try to play for all the people of Mizoram, to touch them and make them happy,” said the 29-year-old, who will be looking to fulfil his role as Aizawl’s transition-man when they host Mohun Bagan on Thursday.

“Here we are like a family. Here, they give you the free will to express yourself on the pitch. Here you can enjoy yourself and show the positive side of football; there is no pressure. They just want you to play good football for Mizoram state. Young Mizo boys are good on the ball because they express themselves,” he added.

Jaryan though, admits that playing without some of his teammates has been difficult and that the loss of Khalid Jamil was personal. But he argues that as professionals, these decisions are taken seeking fulfilment of personal goals and must be respected.

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“The loss of our key players after the season was difficult. Those guys contributed a lot to the football in Mizoram state by bringing the I-League to Aizawl. But we had to move on for the people of the state and try to make them proud this season.”

Jaryan, who played under Jamil at Mumbai FC, concluded by saying, “Khalid Jamil has been a like a father to me and I want to thank him for that. He has nurtured me and tried give me some good advice. He made me feel welcome in the I-League. Personally I was sad when he left but people have to follow their dream. It was for the good of his career and future so it was okay. As a sport lover you have to accept it. But who knows in the future, we may meet again!”

First Published: Jan 24, 2018 22:44 IST