Interview by Deno Dolie
Hiti is not someone I know personally, but I knew of him through his sisters, who went to to the same school as me. I felt his story is worth sharing as this 15-year-old kid from Nagaland is already a professional player for Sudeva Delhi FC U18s in the Hero I League. Moreover, I was equally impressed by his family’s support, in helping their son take this unconventional route at such an early age – and on a professional level. Hiti attends a residential football school, where he enrolled when he was just 11.
In our society, it is not common to see young people going for professional training in pursuit of their passions. Through Hiti’s story, it is my hope to see more parents – especially from the Northeast, support their children’s endeavors in these unconventional careers – and guide them through the right means and channels. This can be a game-changer for a society like ours, which is full of ambitious youths with diverse talents – and through which I hope, will contribute to reducing the unemployment plaque in our societies.
Chat with 15-Year-old Hiti Seb from Nagaland – footballer for Sudeva Delhi FC U18s in the Hero I League.
Deno: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hiti Seb: I am Hiti Seb. I belong to the Rengma Naga tribe. I come from a family of six – my parents, two elder sisters, and a younger brother. I am a footballer for Sudeva Delhi FC U18s in the Hero I League.
Deno: How would your friends describe you?
Hiti Seb: My friends would describe me as funny, ambitious, and someone well-balanced with his priorities i.e football and schooling.
Deno: I suppose you are still in school. How old are you?
Hiti Seb: I am 15 years old. I’ll be turning 16 this December.
Deno: Tell us about your football journey? How did it all start and when?
Hiti Seb: Football was always a part of my family. Every day, I would play at school and then come back home to play with my younger brother and a few friends in the neighborhood. YouTube definitely helped me learn more skills.
When I was 10, I decided to pursue it as a career. After a successful trial, I left for Delhi when I was 11 years old in 2017. During my time in the U13s, we managed to reach the semi-finals for two consecutive seasons. In 2019, I was the highest scorer in the U13 Delhi Zone with 9 goals. Last year, we qualified for the U15 final round, but due to the pandemic, it was canceled and I ended the season with 10 goals. Now, I’m part of the U18 team and hopefully, with God’s grace, I will be able to make my senior debut soon.
The Beginnings . . .Young Hiti Seb
Deno: How does it feel to be in a residential football school? Tell us more about your schedule while in school.
Hiti Seb: For the first week prior to joining, I was homesick, but with football and new friends, I felt at “home.” We train in the morning and evenings every day, even on school days. There are physiotherapy, yoga, and gym sessions. Phones are given only during free time.
Deno: How do you manage your time between training and education?
Hiti Seb: We go to school thrice a week, so it’s manageable for me to practice and study at the same time.
Deno: In a week, how much time do you spend on practice?
Hiti Seb: There’s never a day when I don’t play football.
Hiti Seb practicing at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata
Deno: You must feel really lucky to have this kind of support from your parents. Apart from them, who are your biggest cheerleaders and supporters?
Hiti Seb: My parents have always given my siblings and me the liberty to choose our careers. It was my father who taught me the basics. He would play as a goalkeeper, practice with me and take me to trials.
My uncle Chenonlo Woch, founder of Vanguard FC, would give me the opportunity to play for his team in the local league. He is always ready to give me the necessary advice and support. Coach Ayeto Ayemi, General Secretary of Nagaland Football Coaches Association (NFCA) has also played a big role. He is my mentor. Last but not the least, my coaches and teachers at the club train me to be the best on and off the pitch.
Deno: Who is your favorite football player?
Hiti Seb: My favorite football player is Lionel Messi. He has one of the most successful careers yet his humility inspires me. He is my role model, someone I’ve always looked up to since I was little.
Deno: You must be into Champion’s League. Which team do you support?
Hiti Seb: Yes, of course. I support FC Barcelona, the club I’ve backed since the beginning of my journey.
Deno: What does it mean for you to be a footballer?
Hiti Seb: Football to me is more than a sport. It allows me to express myself through the game and cultivate the virtues of patience, discipline, sportsmanship, and teamwork. When I’m on the pitch, I’m always happy and I forget my problems. I play as a striker because I love to score goals and help my team.
Hiti Seb taking a corner against the team from Bhaichung Bhutia Football School
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