Mariadon Pathaw writes about football agents working in India.
The manager runs the game, players deliver the score, and the fans – they are the team’s 12th man, overwhelming the team with all their backing. During a transfer window, we hear about players, the management, and the board who takes a call on the transfers, and the manager who decides on the options available and so on, but seldom do we hear about the “agents” who are trying to get these transfers possible. They are a shadow presence in the whole scheme of things, and they represent the player at all times.
A football agent is someone who lightens the burden of players in matters relating to club transfers, salary and contract negotiations. A player appoints an agent and the agent takes care of everything related to his footballing side thus enabling the player to deliver maximum on the ground and stay focused on his trade of playing the game.
We are well aware of the famous agents of the west. Jorge Mendes, who represents Cristiano Ronaldo, Falcao, and Jose Mourinho. Pere Guardiola who was responsible for the $130 million transfer of Suarez to Barcelona FC and so on. But little do we know about the player agents in India, who work with our footballers.
Sunil Chhetri and Eugeneson Lyngdoh – these are the names synonymous to football in India. But who is responsible for their transfers? The man behind is Sonu Lamba, a top football player agent who deals with the country’s best football talent. In a conversation with Sonu Lamba, he shared how his great love and passion for Indian football brought him to his current career, moving away from his engineering and Merchant Navy stint. In 2013, when his daughter was born, he decided not to return to the sea and decided to pursue his passion and do his bit to develop football in India, and there began his stint as a football player agent. Sonu represents Sunil Chhetri, Rino Anto, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, CK Vineeth, Balwant Singh, Udanta Singh, Anwar Ali, Shankar Sampingiraj, Ashutosh Mehta, Keegan Pereira and Sehnaj Singh.
When asked about the biggest challenge in his job, he said, “it is gaining the player’s trust.” Player agents not only secure the best deal for a player, but also double up as a guiding force for the player, helping him in his professional life. He added, “Getting a deal is not the main job for an agent. His job is to make sure that the deal is in the best interest of the player. The agent is like the go-to man for the player for any problems he may have; I am here to solve it.”
Adewale Seriki, who hails from Nigeria and is currently in Goa, is no stranger to Indian football. This former JCT player is the man behind the contracts of various African players plying their trade in India. He represents a host of players including Friday Gbeneme, Ebi Sukore, Penn Orji, Obiora Anorue, Ekenne Ekenwa, and the attacking duo of Dudu Omagbemi and Ranti Martins. Apart from foreign players, Adewale also works with many local players who have the potential and the determination to work hard on field. Israil Gurung, currently playing for the FC Pune City is one among them. Coach Abdulaziz Bola, who won Durand Cup with Mohammedan Sporting in 2013, is also a client of Adewale. His enthusiasm to spend time on observing and studying local players has made him one of the few foreign agents in India, who deals with local as well as foreign talent.
Football in India is yet to make a mark. For the development of Indian football, it is imperative that agents play a role in ensuring that the players have the right remuneration, and are able to secure their rights during contracts. The work is yet to begin, and for Indian football, these are baby steps towards making a mark in the global football scene. Agents are here to help build that tomorrow, and the future definitely looks bright!
Editorial support from Sreedhanya