Manipur: Proud to play in the ISL, says Wungngayam Muirang of Bengaluru FC
Imphal: Ukhrul, the picturesque hill district of Manipur, has always been an integral part of Manipur's football success story. Football is a way of life for the people living here, and this explains why Ukhrul has produced so many skilled football players. But even among all the success stories, Wungngayam Muirang is special.
Muirang is Ukhrul's first football player to feature in the Indian Super League.
Born to farmer parents, the 21-year-old defender made his first appearance in the ISL on December 13, playing for Bengaluru FC against Kerala Blasters at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa.
"Coming from a small town like Ukhrul, it feels amazing, and it is a proud moment for me to play in the ISL. I really hope that this will encourage more children from my community to start playing football and really work hard to achieve their dreams," Muirang told EastMojo.
Though he started playing football early in his career, playing as a professional player did not come easily for Muirang as he had to struggle to find the right grassroots-level training centre, and financial support.
"The biggest challenge I faced was because Ukhrul didn’t have a proper football ground or facilities. There was no real professional grassroots level training available," said the Bengaluru FC defender.
"A long time ago, I remember there was a small program, and a lot of people showed up for that. I know there was interest in the sport; it’s just that not enough exposure was available," he lamented.
Before playing for Bengaluru FC, Muirang, who is the eldest among the five siblings, had joined Shillong Lajong as a professional football player in 2012. He had previously played for Pune FC Academy, which later became Pune City FC in 2015.
In 2018, he played for Gokulam Kerala FC on loan before finding his way to the present Bengaluru FC. He is also part of the India U-23 set up.