The Next Sunil Chhetri?

Sivasakthi Narayanan may not be a name that you’re familiar with, but it’s one you will hopefully hear a lot more in the weeks, months and years to come. Siva, as he is affectionately called, has been setting the Indian Super League alight with his searing pace, silky skills and glorious goals for Bengaluru FC. The highlight for us came in the ISL semi-finals when he left the opposition defender for dead with a deft turn of the hips before floating a peach of a cross with his left foot for Javi Hernandez, the eventual goalscorer – a glimpse of his game-changing potential.

In fact, Siva has made such rapid strides in adapting to the demands of the ISL that folks have anointed him as the heir to Sunil Chhetri’s throne as the national team’s primary goalscorer – a massive responsibility for his young, 21-year-old shoulders. But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Siva. His journey is one he has traversed against all odds.

It all began in the fields of Kandanur, a tiny hamlet in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu where Siva spent his early days learning the basics of the beautiful game. In fact, it was Siva’s older brother who impressed early on being selected for a local academy run by former India footballer, Raman Vijayan. Siva’s FOMO kicked in and it was only after a massive tantrum that Siva too was accommodated at the sports hostel with his brother.

As fate would have it, just a year later, when he was only 14 years old, Siva lost his father forcing his family into a cycle of poverty and debt. So dire was the situation that the brothers didn’t even have the money to make the journey back home to visit their mother. Reliving those times, Siva says, “When I was going through those moments, I wondered, why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?”

Despite the immense challenges, Siva kept his head down and worked on honing his skills. When they had the time, Siva and his brother would play local tournaments so that they could pocket the meagre prize money on offer just to stay afloat. Soon, Siva realised that football was his only solace and doubled down on his efforts.

Siva’s ability to take on his defender, position himself intelligently and use his natural speed helped him to become the top scorer in the U18 I-League in 2018. These performances put him on the radar of India’s leading football clubs with Bengaluru FC winning the race for his signature. Since joining Bengaluru FC, Siva has grown from strength to strength surpassing expectations at every challenge presented to him. Deservedly, he has been called up for the India camp as the national team prepares for upcoming tournaments.

All of 5 feet and 4 inches, Siva may be short on height but tall on character. Seemingly frail, but of steely resolve. A shining example for our kids that demonstrates the power of sheer will, effort and tenacity. Lessons that are important in football and in life. All of us at Footie First wish Siva every success. And we hope his story inspires more children to find the Siva inside them! ❤️

If you’d like your children to find their inner Siva, call us on 9819337766 or 9819227766 🙂