Bineesh Balan was a promising forward with a bright future when he signed for Pune FC in 2014 in the I-League, then the country’s top tier in football

The winger from Thrissur had already won multiple titles with Churchill Brothers—two Durand Cup trophies, one Federation Cup, and two I-League titles— and was expected to break into the national team soon.

Balan comes from a poor family: his father was a porter; football was to be his route to a better life, and he was on the cusp of realising that dream.

Six years after the former I-League winning forward vanished from the national football scene, Balan says he is in dire straits financially, and working in his home town as a daily wage labourer, doing carpentry, painting and loading and unloading trucks. “I don’t have any work right now. My situation is very bad at the moment,” he said over the phone.

“Now I am working as a daily wage labourer in different places. My father worked as a coolie (porter), but he is too old to work now; my mother is a homemaker. I have a wife and a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and my family is dependent on me. Now with the coronavirus pandemic, the situation is even more difficult,” Balan said.

My father and I have tried to approach the government. I tried for jobs, and met several officials. We even went to the Kerala sports ministry with my certificates, but they did not take it in a serious way,” added the former India youth international and Tata Football Academy alumnus

Kerala Football Association secretary Anil Kumar reacted to the news, saying: “It is an unfortunate situation and we have forwarded his appeal to the state sports council with a request that it be brought to the notice of the state sports minister (EP Jayarajan). We are hopeful of a positive development soon.”

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