At just 8 years of age, Srijith Madhusoodanan succumbed to his innate passion for football. It all started when his supportive and encouraging father, a die-hard fan of Brazilian football legend, Ronaldinho, first introduced him to the sport. From then on, there was no looking back for Srijith. It was love at first sight!
The birth of a football force of nature
It was at his school, Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan, Ajjanur, where his football coach, Coach Chandran, saw the potential in the then eight-year-old Srijith and helped him through his formative years of mastering the game. He then went on to participate in Kovai’s open 5-a-side tournament circuit, where Srijith’s skills got initial recognition and caught the eye of CDFA clubs CBAFC and Ashoka FC.
I left my family members and friends in Coimbatore and went to Goa all alone. Stepping out of my comfort zone was a very challenging moment for me.”
Always a bright student, Srijith never let football take away focus from his studies. In Goa, he enrolled in the Bachelors of Arts (Sociology) Program in Chowgule College, who graciously accepted him on short notice. He says he owes his ability to balance the importance of education and his love for the game of football to Chowgule College, Goa, who understood and appreciated his passion for sports but also his desire to pursue his studies. Srijith’s family, at first apprehensive about his decision to pursue football, soon saw his raw potential and passion for the game, and from that moment on stood by his side. Srijith acknowledges that none of this would have been possible without the support of his loving family who encouraged him to follow his dreams.
The gallant goal-maker of Goa!
Of all the significant challenges Srijith had to face, taking the bold and brave step of moving to Goa to pursue his dream as a professional footballer was by far the most daring move he had to make.
“I left my family members and friends in Coimbatore and went to Goa all alone. Stepping out of my comfort zone was a very challenging moment for me.”
But soon, Srijith became the local pride of this lush green paradise. What was even more eye-opening for Srijith was the involvement of local village panchayats in promoting the game at the lowest levels.
“Here in Goa, football is like a religion. It is even discussed in families over the dining table. It is an inevitable part of the Goan culture.”
For Srijith, there have been a lot of exciting incidents during his footballing journey. However, one special, standout moment for the power player was when he was invited to England for a pre-season spell for the Under-21 team of Peterborough United FC, a team playing in League One of England’s top-flight league pyramid where his game improved profoundly from matches against Hull City FC, Norwich FC, Stevenage FC and Histon FC.
“Playing in England was a surreal experience as it gave me a taste of what top-level football is all about. The entire ecosystem is unbelievably professional, and millions of pounds are being pumped into youth development.”
What’s in the pipeline for the football prodigy?
Back in Goa, a feature of Srijith’s excellent performance in the local dailies caught the eye of Churchill Brothers FC who invited him to sign professional terms with their senior squad. Playing alongside some of the top professional footballers in Goa in what is undoubtedly the most challenging State Championship in Indian football – the GFA Goa Professional League – is definitely going to test Srijith’s skills to its limits. But we don’t have a doubt in our minds that Srijith will score his goals with flying colours!
“My future of being a sportsperson looks very promising as I always wanted to be the best in whatever I do and willing to put my heart and soul into it. I am a proud Tamilian, and I know that I represent Kovai every time I take to the field, and that means a lot to me.”
Srijith leaves us with a few bold words of advice to fuel other fiery sports enthusiasts to follow their daredevil dreams, just like he did –
Love what you do, be passionate, work hard and keep moving forward. Stay away from naysayers and negativity. Most importantly, with a little self-discipline, anything is possible. Remember, big dreamers always win those who never give up.”