Kiran Chemjong: From Village Striker to Nepal’s No.1 Goalkeeper
From Village Striker to National Goalkeeper: The Inspiring Journey of Kiran Chemjong
In the picturesque village of Rajarani in Dhankuta, Nepal, where the hills echoed with the laughter of children and the cheers of local football matches, a young Kiran Chemjong first discovered his love for the beautiful game. Little did he know that his journey from playing as a striker in the village to becoming the revered goalkeeper of the Nepali national side would be a tale of passion, dedication, and unwavering support.
In his early days, Chemjong, with a towering stature that caught everyone’s attention, was a versatile player, equally adept as a striker or a defender. Fate took an unexpected turn when his seniors, recognizing his potential, urged him to stand between the goalposts during a local match. Little did Chemjong know that this decision would shape the trajectory of his football career.
“It was how I started as a goalkeeper,” reminisces Chemjong, now a stalwart in the national squad. Despite hailing from a hilly district, Rajarani boasted a sizable football ground where locals and seniors would show their skills. Chemjong’s affinity for the game grew, and he soon found himself falling head over heels for football.
His love for the sport, however, raised concerns among family members, especially his mother, who worried whether his passion for football would hinder his studies. Yet, she stood by him, offering support in the form of financial assistance whenever he ventured outside the village to pursue his football dreams.
Kiran Chemjong’s Rise: From Anfa Academy Selection to National Stardom”
As Chemjong honed his skills in local games, he swiftly progressed to district-level competitions. His maiden trip to Kathmandu coincided with a district-level U-16 school football tournament, and fate intervened once again. During the tournament, there was a selection process for the national U-16 team, providing Chemjong with the opportunity of a lifetime.
“Coincidentally, it was the same time when there was a selection of national U-16 players in Kathmandu,” he recalls. Despite his district’s loss in the semifinals, Chemjong heeded the advice of his seniors and participated in the selection process conducted by the All Nepal Football Association. Triumphantly, he secured a spot in the Association’s Academy, marking the beginning of his professional journey.
Kiran Chemjong’s Debut in National Team
Following his graduation from the academy and successful stints in club-level football, Chemjong received the call that every aspiring footballer dreams of – a spot in the national squad.
In 2008, Kiran Chemjong marked his debut for the Nepali national team during the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Despite facing a challenging setback, as he broke his jaw during the match, Chemjong’s determination and resilience shone through, leaving an indelible mark on the beginning of his international career.
Kiran Chemjong: Rising Above Criticism, A Goalkeeper’s Journey of Resilience and Inspiration
While reflecting on his early career, Chemjong candidly admits contemplating his choice of becoming a goalkeeper. The criticism that goalkeepers often face after making a mistake led him to momentarily question his decision. “When I heard people scolding a goalkeeper after a mistake, I thought I should not have listened to my seniors and instead continue playing as a striker or in any other position. But as days passed by, such thoughts were erased from my mind,” he reflects.
Chemjong acknowledges the unique challenges faced by goalkeepers, where mistakes tend to overshadow their remarkable saves. Despite the scrutiny, he emphasizes the resilience required to thrive in such a demanding position. “When a striker misses numerous opportunities but scores a goal, it is for that goal he is remembered. Maybe it is because goals win matches, but such a thing is often not the case with goalkeepers. You become known for the mistake you committed during the game,” he notes.
Today, Kiran Chemjong stands tall as a symbol of determination, breaking stereotypes and inspiring aspiring footballers across Nepal. His journey from a village striker to the national team’s first-choice goalkeeper is a testament to the power of passion, familial support, and the unwavering pursuit of one’s dreams. As fans continue to cheer for this remarkable goalkeeper, his story serves as a timeless source of inspiration for generations to come.