New Delhi: Jeakson Singh Thaunaojam is a name that will forever be etched in the footballing history of India. On October 9, India found a new sporting sensation in 17-year-old Jeakson when the boy from Manipur jumped high to guide a header into the Colombian net during the Under-17 Football World Cup Group A match at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
As the ball entered the Colombian goal in the 82nd minute of the match, not only India erupted with joy but the history books too got a new entry as Jeakson became the first Indian ever to score a goal in a Football World Cup match across all age groups. Even though the match ended 2-1 in favour of Colombia, yet Jeakson’s header off a Sanjeev Stalin cross was enough to electrify the stadium and galvanise the entire country.
The youngster, whose cousin Amarjit Singh Kiyam is the captain of the Indian Under-17 football team, comes from Haokha Mamang village in Thoubal district of the tiny Northeastern state. Trained at the Chandigarh Football Academy (CFA) since he was 11, Jeakson is a defensive midfielder but it was his attacking prowess that has made him a part of Indian footballing history.
Coached by his father Konthoujam Deben Singh, who suffered a stroke in 2015 and had to leave his job with the Manipur police, during his early years, Jeakson was initially not part of the group of players selected for the U-17 team. Not the one to give up easily, he joined another Minerva Punjab FC Academy in Chandigarh and soon became an integral part of their team. He was an integral part of the teams which won AIFF U-15 & U-16 Youth League titles in consecutive years.
Following a good show with Minerva Punjab which won the 2017 U-16 Youth I-League, Jeakson was invited to play against the Indian U-17 World Cup team. He played a crucial role as his team defeated the Indian team 1-0. The victory ensured a call from the Indian coach Luis Norton de Matos for a place in the U-17 team.
Back home his family is dependent on the meagre income brought by his mother from selling vegetables at the Khwairamband Bazar in Imphal, 25km from her home. But his exploits on Monday against Colombia would surely ensure that football not only gets a boost in Manipur but other parts of India.