Short on time, but standing tall

A Striker Who Picked Up Gloves By Chance, Sharon Has His Eyes On The Blues’ First Team As He Works His Way Up The Ladder…

At a young age, bad games accompanied by stern words could spell the end of sporting dreams, for kids rarely see criticism as constructive. While this is partially true for Sharon Sivan, all it did was adjust his ambitions to match his abilities. He came close to hanging up his boots in frustration, and he did – only to pick up a pair of gloves instead.

“When I was younger, all I wanted to do was score goals, so I started out as a striker. I remember having a bad performance in a game when I was 11 years old, and though it was only a youth team match, people back home can sometimes be unforgiving. I was a bit down after that and I even stopped training, until a few coaches came home to drag me back to the pitch. Though I had lost a bit of interest in playing by then, my coach wanted me to play in goal one game, as I was tall, and I agreed because I thought my involvement would be minimal. The first ball that I faced, I dived and punched it away, and after that I was saving almost everything that came my way. That day, on my way back home, I found out how much it would cost to buy a pair of gloves. I’ve been standing in goal ever since,” says Sharon.

For someone who didn’t plan on becoming a ‘keeper, Sharon wasted no time in picking up the nuances of the trade, and hasn’t ever looked back. He joined the SAI Regional Football Academy soon after, where he honed his craft before being roped in by the Blues for their Residential Academy in 2019.

“My biggest motivation is to make an appearance for the Bengaluru FC first team. Will it be easy? No, and I know that. Is it a bit far-fetched right now? Perhaps. But it’s something I want to achieve and that’s what drives me to be better every day. I’ve improved a lot, especially on the technical side, since I joined the club and the aim is to keep it going until I can, hopefully, knock on the doors of the first team,” he says.

Hailing from Tirur, a tiny district in Malappuram, Kerala, where football is followed with religious fervour, Sharon grew up in a family that has always taken a liking to the sport. “My parents love football. My brother is a big fan of the Argentinian National Team, I like Brazil and my father supports Italy. Then again, everyone in Kerala loves football, and the sport has always been a part of my life,” he says.

Sharon’s father runs a daily wage job and his elder brother works as a welder at a fabrication shop. With them being the breadwinners of his family, Sharon is under no illusion that football could be more than just a sport for him.

“Growing up, I remember staying back in the hostel even after school had shut because it made the going easier for those at home. When I got the chance to play for the Army, my mother said I could join them if I wanted. But, I wanted to pursue the sport professionally and not treat it as a job that is a means to an end. Do I feel a bit of pressure? Yes I do, but I also know that making it as a professional footballer can change a lot of things in life for me and my family. I want to do well as it will change not only my life but also those of everyone around me.”

Having made long strides since joining the Blues’ youth team, Sharon picked up an injury shortly after he joined the first team’s pre-season training ahead of the Indian Super League campaign. “I had a TFCC (Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex) tear in my wrist, and it kept me out for a while. I couldn’t train properly for a month. I know injuries are a part of football, but this was extremely upsetting because it came shortly after I got the opportunity to train with and join the senior team. And I know that doesn’t come too often.”

Even with the little time he had before injury brought it all to an end, he says the experience taught him a lot. “Training with Gurpreet bhai, Mawia bhai and Lara was an amazing experience. I have never trained at that level before and there are things about goalkeeping, things I had never thought about, that I started to pick up. Facing players like Dimas, Udanta, Chhetri bhai and others meant that I was scared to make mistakes. My coaches could sense a bit of tension and coach Julen and Javi would often call me aside and speak to me. I then learned that that’s how it works; you make mistakes, learn from them and move on from them.”

Sharon is aware that goalkeeping, unlike other positions, requires patience as coaches rarely rotate that part of the squad and there can only be one on the pitch at a time. “There are so many goalkeepers, in the country and abroad, who are in their mid-twenties and still waiting for a run of games. This is a position that really tests one’s resolve. But I am patient. Some ‘keepers come into the limelight only because the first-choice ’keeper had an injury or picked up a suspension, and it’s all about grabbing that opportunity with both hands and making the best of it.”

The recently-concluded BDFA Super Division campaign saw Sharon begin the season on the bench, and he used that to motivate himself to make a mark in training. Soon after, Sharon was brought into the team and made the spot his own until the final of the campaign. A run of eight games, where he kept clean sheets in five, saw him repay the coach’s faith by making crucial saves in narrow wins for his side. Now, Sharon has his sights set firmly on the first team, but concedes it won’t be easy.

“I’d love to walk onto the pitch one day as a first team player, but that’s a dream not everyone fulfils. While I’m at the club, I’ll do my best to make that mark. And even if I don’t make it further up the ladder here, and have to move on, I will still keep pushing myself to get better until I reach a level where I am deemed good enough to play for the BFC first team. I have set high expectations for myself and I will give my best to meet them.”