Hat-trick hero Bidyashagar Singh wants to win Manipur its first I-League title

With 11 goals this season so far, TRAU FC’s Bidyashagar Singh is one of the hottest properties in the I-League.

By Naveen Peter

It may not have the glitz and glamour of the Indian Super League (ISL) but the I-League has once again thrown up some splendid stories of talent, perseverance and dreams.

For the aspiring football star in India, I-League is closest to his heart. Ask TRAU FC’s Bidyashagar Singh.

Be it Aizawl FC -- a club run on a shoestring budget -- avoiding relegation or Gokulam Kerala FC’s fighting to become the first team from God's own country to qualify for a continental competition, the I-League has many stories to tell. 

On Wednesday, Bidyashagar Singh added his touch to the league by becoming the first Indian to score hat-tricks in consecutive I-League matches.

While the 23-year-old netted his first hat-trick against the newly promoted Mohammedan Sporting on March 5, the Manipuri was at it again helping TRAU FC beat pre-season favourites Real Kashmir FC 3-1 five days later.

Having scored 11 goals so far, the Indian striker has been in great touch, with his recent exploits pushing him to the top of the race for the Golden Boot.

For Bidyashagar Singh, it was the perfect chance to remember everyone who made him what he is today. That list included a former Indian women’s footballer. Yes, a woman!

“I would like to dedicate this record to my family, and to Prameshwori Devi, who was my first coach,” he told the I-League.

“She herself was playing for the Indian women’s team back in those days, and she is an absolute inspiration for me.”

Bidyashagar Singh pillar of support

Growing up in a farmer’s household in Samaram Mayai Leikai, a village in Manipur, football always seemed like a distant dream for a young Bidyashagar Singh.

But with a father who once dreamt of playing the game at a professional level, the youngster always had his family backing his dreams. 

“During my initial years, it was very difficult financially to buy football boots. Sometimes, I even used to go to the paddy field to support my family,” he told the All India Football Federation (AIFF) website in an interview.

“My father wanted to be a footballer but my grandfather was against it as at that time, there were very few players around. 

“He always wanted to play and when I said that I was keen on football, he supported me. It has been his dream to see me play.”

Having taken up the game as an 11-year-old, the Indian youngster was quick to grasp the basics of the game from Prameshwori Devi and soon found himself playing in the local competitions in Manipur.

Bidyasagar Singh has scored 11 goals in the I-League so far. Photo: I-League Media

It was here that TRAU FC spotted Bidyashagar Singh’s talent and recruited him for their youth team as a 16-year-old.

Bidyashagar Singh’s Kolkata stint

The coming years also saw Bidyashagar Singh spend four years with East Bengal, a period he believes taught him a lot. 

“I gained a lot of experience during my time with East Bengal. They are one of the biggest clubs in India and I can never forget the goal I scored against Shillong Lajong. It was my debut goal in the I-League and it will always be close to my heart,” he said.

Back with his club for the 2020-21 season, Bidyasagar Singh hopes to help TRAU FC become the first team from Manipur to win the I-League. Neroca FC won I-League Division 2 in 2016-17.

“Winning the I-League this year would be fantastic. The fans and people of Manipur will be very happy and it will be a great achievement for the whole state,” he said. 

“I want to thank the people of Manipur for their continuous support. We will continue giving our best to win the title and be the I-League champions!”