Football’s rising star Ravikumar Thanujan from Mahajana College, Jaffna occupied the headlines when he broke into the U16 National Football Squad.
Ravikumar Thanujan was amongst two U16 players who got selected into the squad from Jaffna along with Pakyanathan Rexon from St.Henry’s College.
Sri Lanka will battle against Japan, Nepal and Bhutan in the South Asia – Japan U16 Football Exchange Tournament which will start this March on the 11th at Race Course International Stadium and will go on till March 14th. The U16 squad will further participate in the South Asian Football Federation U16 tournament on the back end of the year.
ThePapare.com had an exclusive interview with Thanujan on his journey towards the national team. Inspired by the talents and commitment of his brother and uncle, the boy from Jaffna started to play football at the age of 10. Football runs in his veins.
Talking about his breakthrough into the national squad, Thanujan was full of praise for his Coach Mr.Shanthan;
“My Coach Shanthan was the one who helped me from the scratch. He helped me from the basics. I was nervous coming into the selections. There were so many players coming from everywhere. But I believed in my preparation and I was able to surpass the hurdle. Now I am here.”
Starting his football journey at the tender age of 10, Thanujan broke into the club level circuit after just three years. He is still playing for the club, Namakal SC, excelling every year.
The experience he gained at club level had come handy for this young lad to get into the team.
Thanujan is not just a football star. His all-round abilities extend to athletics. He has shone at national level in athletics as he represented Northern Province in Javelin throw, 100 meters and 400 meters relay. But his main aim was football and he had to choose between athletics and football, he chose the latter.
His school, Mahajana College has got selected for national level in football on more than one occasion. Recent addition to the list is the recently concluded Samaposha All Island U15 Championship. Thanujan was shoulders above the rest as he outshone almost everyone who played with and against him. His impact was significant in the tournament.
Thanujan is under the watchful eyes of Japan’s Suzuki Chikashi who will be coaching the U16 national team. This will help the young bunch to learn and improve a lot technically and have a proper understanding of the game.
Talking about the national training sessions,
“It more about the discipline than the training they are focusing on. I believe that will make a huge impact on me and other players. I have learnt a lot when it comes to football and sports. I have learnt a lot in controlling my speed and acceleration at the right moment as a striker. They techniques are the most important and I have an understanding about it at the moment. There is so much to learn.”
He further went on to speak about the current status quo of the players of Northern province and the changes that he think should happen in order for improvement,
“There is less room for exposure. We don’t have experience playing away from home. Coming to Colombo itself has so many obstacles we have to face. There is less opportunity. That is the bitter truth. There are better players than me in Jaffna. But they are unseen to the selectors. There should be equal opportunity given to them. I am lucky in that way.”
Talking to Suzuki Chikashi about Ravikumar Thanujan, the Japanese was full of praise about the young lad.
“We can see a lot of improvement in his game. He is playing in left extreme position. He has a very good understanding to the game and his crosses have improved a lot. He can go places.”
Talking further about the team,
“As a team, you can see a difference from the past. We have tried some new drills in the practices and that will be visible in the performance of the team.”
We wish Ravikumar Thanujan the best of luck for the future.