Chennai City FC boys set for Finland sojourn

The four chosen Chennai City FC players, Soosai Raj Michael, Nandhakumar, Edwin Vanspaul and A. Beautin are eager to prove themselves at an international level. The players will train at Finland for a month and if found suitable, they will join Finnish club JS Hercules.

Chennai City FC owner Rohit Ramesh, representatives of Finnish Club JS Hercules and the chosen footballers at an event in Chennai on Friday.   -  V. Ganesan

 

With Chennai City FC (CCFC) recently announcing a long-term partnership with Finnish third-tier side JS Hercules, the four chosen CCFC players, Soosai Raj Michael, Nandhakumar, Edwin Vanspaul and A. Beautin are eager to prove themselves at an international level. The players will train at Finland for a month and if found suitable, they will join the Finnish side.

“I have always dreamt of playing in Europe and this is honestly a dream come true,” says 22-year-old Soosai Raj Michael, who began playing football barefoot when he was five.

“Most people feel that playing in these big leagues is very difficult but from my experience I found that the playing level is equal,” he opines. “If you ask me, the Indian league and the Finnish league are the same in terms of competition and skill; it’s just the opportunities that differ.”

While Soosai has received a job offer from the Central Excise department, among others, he is very clear on playing football professionally. “My mother felt that I should take up the job but my brother supported me and encouraged me to take up football as a career. It’s not everyday that you get a chance to play in Europe and he insisted that I grab the opportunity.”

Coming from a family of footballers, Soosai is training hard ahead of the visit to the Nordic country. “Given that they play on artificial turf in Finland, we are going through intensive training to strengthen our lower body by running on the beach and extensive weight training in the gym. It is going to be a completely different experience. The food, climate and language are all going to be different but I’m mentally prepared to give it my best,” says a visibly excited Soosai.

He signs off by saying, “If I play in Europe then I will definitely get a chance to play for the national team, which is my main aim. I want to play for the Indian national team.”

His team-mate Nandhakumar, who scored two goals in the I League, is equally stoked about going to Finland. “I am really happy to have been provided this opportunity. This is a huge opportunity for me to perform on a global platform and I will make the most of it. For me to get such an opportunity within my first year of professional football is a huge achievement for me,” he adds.

The local boy is firm that he will fight all odds to excel at the trials. “I do not have any apprehensions as such but I am a little concerned about the climate there. It will be challenging given that it is extremely hot here but it is very cold there.”

Nandhakumar was offered a well paying job recently, which he has put on hold. “I was offered a job at AGS but I have put the offer on hold. I have expressed my desire to play professionally as of now. My family preferred that I take up the government job but they are now supportive of my goals.”

Echoing Soosai’s dream, he too says, “My ultimate goal is to play for the Indian national team,” as he flashes a wide grin.

The oh-so-shy A. Beautin, did not have much to say except that he could not wait to play in Europe. Seems like he would rather let his boots do the talking.

Rohit Ramesh, owner of CCFC, said,” We are trying to see if players can play 365 days a year, in Chennai and Finland. The beauty in this deal is that the Finnish league begins when the I League ends and vice versa.”

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