Former champions Minerva Punjab FC will be a force to reckon with in the latest edition of I-League and one of the players to watch out will be Thoiba Singh Moirangthem, who is making waves at 16 years of age.

He was a part of the India U-16 team that reached the quarter-finals of the AFC U-16 Championships last year in Malaysia and the side that lifted the Saff U-18 Championship 2019 in September.

At the domestic level, he made his professional debut with Minerva Punjab FC in the Hero I-League 2018/19 against the Indian Arrows at only 15 years 11 months old and went on to make seven league appearances in the season.

“Playing in the I-League was a phenomenal experience,” he told, adding, “I learned a lot from it and it has made me a better player for sure.”

He spoke about how travelling around the country and sharing the dressing room with highly experienced players has helped him improve in multiple spheres.

“I have learned a lot how to behave in situations, how to be disciplined in terms of my diet and punctuality and managing my rest with all the travel involved,” he explained.

The teenager continued, “Senior players such as Al Amna (Mahmoud) helped me a lot. They shared their experience and guided me on how to play on the field, keep myself fit and develop as a player. Sachin sir (former Minerva coach Sachin Badadhe) also taught me a great deal in terms of tactics and gave me the confidence to play my game.”

Thoiba, who can play in defence as well as a defensive midfielder, was up against seasoned veterans in the competition and stated that he relishes such battles against physically stronger rivals.

“I strongly believe that I am as good as them and there’s no reason why I cannot match them. On the night of the eve of matches, I visualise how I will face my opponents so as to gain an advantage on the pitch.