Jamshedpur FC winger Seiminlen Doungel is excited about the upcoming Indian Super League season after joining the club in the January transfer window earlier this year. After seeing his game time limited with FC Goa in the 2020-21 season, Doungel opted for a fresh challenge with Jamshedpur and even scored for Owen Coyle’s men in his final league appearance for the club last season.

Ahead of the new season, Doungel, also fondly known as Len, spoke of his delight at being a part of the Jamshedpur setup as well as his ambitions for ISL 2021-21. “I feel so blessed and good. As a player, you feel a sense of responsibility once you sign for the club. I am very happy to be a part of Jamshedpur FC. The preparations have been enjoyable so far and I am excited about the new season. Since things are getting better, I am looking forward to getting onto the pitch,” he said in an exclusive interview with SportsAdda.

“Personally, I want to perform very well in the coming season. My ambition is to excel for my team. Since football is a team game, it's more important to understand how to play a team. There are individual and personal motives combined to eventually be successful,” he added.

A journeyman footballer, the Indian winger has represented six ISL clubs in his career. He began with NorthEast United FC before enjoying stints with Bengaluru FC, the now-defunct Delhi Dynamos FC, Kerala Blasters FC and FC Goa.

While he has plenty of fond memories to draw from during his time with those clubs, Doungel revealed why he cherished his time with NorthEast United FC. Lest we forget, he is the Highlanders’ first-ever hat-trick scorer.

“The most important thing for a player is the playing time. When I was at NorthEast United in 2017, I got to play a lot of matches. I really enjoyed playing over there because that is where I come from. I think I gave the best performance of my career with NorthEast United. I also scored a hat-trick [for them] in 2018 against Chennaiyin FC which is very special to me,” Doungel said.

He also spoke glowingly of his time in the youth setup of JCT and his first-ever senior goal for the Indian national football team. “When I was with the youth club JCT in under-19, I scored a very beautiful goal in a national game at Ranchi in 2009. It was a very good goal but unfortunately, there is no recording of it. Then in 2019, I scored an equaliser against Afghanistan in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier. That is also the most memorable and beautiful goal for me,” the 27-year-old said.

A lot has changed since Doungel’s days in the JCT youth setup as sport adapts to the post-COVID-19 world where bio-bubbles are the norm and the Jamshedpur winger opened up on the challenges that are associated with staying in isolation for long stretches of time.

“I would be lying if I say I don’t get affected. It gets really hard when you are in a bio-bubble away from family and close friends for long weeks and months. As footballers, we look at the bigger picture and try to focus our mind on the goals lying ahead,” he opined.

That said, when he is away from bio-bubbles, Doungel is the type of player who likes to give back to the community during his downtime. “In the off-season, I am used to doing a lot of coaching for the youngsters who do not get an opportunity to go for the trials. I do it for free as I believe this is my humble way to contribute to the young generation and community. I don’t know about the future, but this is the only thing I can do as of now,” he explained.

Hailing from a remote town in Manipur, Doungel also mentioned how he likes to remember his roots while at home with family as it brings him joy. “I remember when I was a kid, I used to go farming with my parents in the paddy fields. Most importantly, working there gave me a sense of happiness and appreciation. I am very glad to do that when I am at home,” he admitted.

Looking ahead, the 27-year-old winger will be eager to make an impact with Jamshedpur in the new ISL season. Going by his end to last season with Jamshedpur, Doungel is likely to have a major role to play for Coyle’s men as the Red Miners eye a first-ever spot in the semi-finals in their fifth attempt.

Doungel, of course, knows what it’s like to feature in an ISL semi-final having played in one for FC Goa and he will be hoping that his experience at the business end of a season can finally help Jamshedpur break their semis voodoo.

Featured photo : Jamshedpur FC