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 Tomba & Bungo

Tomba Singh & Bungo Singh - Air- India's prized possessions

With the modicum of simplicity and innocence shown by the Tomba SinghAir- India duo of Tomba Singh and Bungo Singh in the face of increasing public adulation; the benefactor is none other than Indian football. There is a certain degree of sanctity attached to players who are naive, modest and of course exceptionally talented. This is an asset not only for players, but also for the coach who can mould the youngsters in the desired direction.

Renowned coach Bimal Ghosh was able to baptize Tomba and Bungo into match winners for Air India. As Ghosh rightly observed, “Tomba and Bungo are very talented. They are also very obedient and give a lot of respect to every one in the team”. The incredible achievement of Air India in the past couple of seasons stands testimony to the skill and enterprise of Manipuri boys Tomba Singh and Bungo Singh who are passionate about football. For the past couple of years, they had constantly grabbed the headlines of newspapers in Mumbai with their sterling performances on the field while representing Air-India.

The 19-year-old athletic Tomba belongs to the rare breed of Bungo Singhplayers in the country who can shoot the ball with his left or right leg in equal power. He can also play in left or right or center position with equal ease and confidence. Tomba had a brief stint with under-19 India team which was coached by the renowned Rustam Akhramov last year. Inspired at an impressionable age by cousin Khambiton Singh who is a senior member of Air India, Tomba left the protected surroundings of his home in Manipur to join Air India in 1999. Back home, Tomba had played for United Sports Association (Manipur). Being the youngest among his 5 siblings, Tomba is the apple of every eye in his family. His elder brothers are gainfully occupied in cloth business in Manipur.

Tomba practices his skills under the watchful eyes of coach Bimal Ghosh in the wee hours of the morning at the Air India colony ground. Tomba's favorite players are Luis Figo, Baichung Bhutia, Somtai Shazia, I M Vijayan and Godfrey Perreira, while his dream team is Churchill Bros. In spare time, he loves to watch television. “On every weekend, I also takes care to telephone my parents back home in Manipur through the local STD booth near Air India colony” said Tomba.

While Tomba has remained an introvert, Bungo has not only progressed in his Hindi communication skills but can also labeled as an extrovert. Bungo's expedition at the competitive level of the game began with Staran Sporting Association (Manipur), which was at the expense of his high school studies. He gained recognition for his efforts when he was chosen for the best footballer's award in Subroto Cup in the under-16 category which also culminated in India's 1-0 victory over Bangladesh in final in the year 1996. Bungo had also represented India in the under-17 and under-19 age groups at Katmandu and Colombo respectively. When asked to comment on his favorite soccer star, Bungo said, “I like Bhaichung Bhutia for his speed and kicking. I also love to watch David Beckham of Manchester united on television”

Tomba and Bungo compliment each other on the field like the proverbial birds of a weather that flock together. With his phlegmatic disposition, Bungo- the short and stocky midfield general of Air India who is only 18 years of age, had controlled the strings of the game against Mahindras in the final of the recently concluded Air India Millennium Cup. On the other hand his comrade Tomba stamped his class with a gorgeous solo goal after intercepting a timely pass from Bungo to guide Air India to a 3-0 victory over Mahindras.

Tomba and Bungo have parallel aim of representing India in the senior category. Although Tomba was without a proper clue when he was asked to divulge his strategy of playing for the country, his soulmate Bungo sounded quite realistic in his confession, “My aim is to perform well in the National Football League matches in order to qualify for India in the under 21 category. I can play for senior India if I continue to perform with greater consistency at the higher level ”. Both teenagers Tomba and Bungo will represent India in the senior category is a hypothesis, which will grow in conviction in course of time and on the basis of their performances at the premier level of the game in the new Millennium.

By : Wasim Siddiqui


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