GoalBold had the opportunity to sit and have a chat with Chennai City FC’s stalwart in defence, Dharmaraj Ravanan. Read the 30 year old experienced footballer talk in length from his early days to the experience of lifting his first I-League trophy back in 2013 in the exclusive interview with Sravan Pradheep.
Q. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU START YOUR FOOTBALLING CAREER?
During my early days I was crazy about football and football has always been my first love. I have been playing football since my fifth grade in Bishop School, Trichy. I was well trained and motivated there by coaches and physical directors.
It started with local school tournaments and went on to join Sports hostel with my parent’s permission. I later went to St. Joseph College, Trichy to pursue my degree and joined Indian Bank. It was then when I discontinued my studies and joined Indian Bank side which was playing in the I-League. After that I went on to play for clubs like Dempo S.C., Mohun Bagan AC, Churchill Brothers, Mahindra United, Pune City FC, Bharat FC, Sporting Clube de Goa and now with Chennai City FC.
Q. HAVING PLAYED FOR TOP CLUBS IN INDIAN FOOTBALL, WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO YOUNG FOOTBALLERS?
I have seen some amazing talents while playing in Tamil Nadu. In my personal opinion you can achieve everything with just talent. Talent will just provide you opportunities one should make use of it. In spite of that if you want to be a professional and consistent player you need Hard-work, dedication and discipline. Else, we will disappear in a year or two. In any field you can’t just succeed with talent. Many talents have been wasted who lack these qualities and I have seen it in my past.
Q. TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT ARMANDO COLACO
He was my first coach outside Tamil Nadu and learnt a lot from him during my days in Dempo S.C. under him. Every coach has helped me in some way in achieving my dream. He spotted me when I played against Mohun Bagan in Bangalore for Indian Bank.
At that time I was just 19, He contacted me after the game and called me during that season. He just said to me that, “If you want to develop come and join.” Then I resigned Indian Bank and signed my professional contract there. Later, I played many games under him.
He saw something in me and got me the opportunity to play with some big names. I gained more experience under him which gave me strength to play next level football.
Q. WHAT WAS YOUR FEELING WHEN YOU LEAD AND WON THE I-LEAGUE TROPHY FOR THE FIRST TIME?
It was back in 2013, it was unexpected and felt so happy to win the title after three long season with Churchill brothers. Our team was in great form in that season.
Subhash Bhowmick, one of the best Indian coaches I have worked with. We had top class players such as Beto, who was top scorer for us in the league. Sunil Chhetri joined us during January window from Sporting Clube de Goa. Bilal Shiekh from Lebanon was one of the best defenders I have ever played alongside. Current Mohun Bagan forward Akram Mohrabi was also there with us that season.
We had so much options in each and every position and supportive management which helped us to win the title. The only family to run a club like this in Indian football so much dedicated. I will cherish that forever and we could have not achieved that without the support of management and players hard-work.
Q. HAVING SHARED YOUR DRESSING ROOM WITH LEGEND LIKE DAVID TREZEGUET AND PLAYING ALONGSIDE HIM, HOW DID YOU FEEL?
I have played with many foreign players before in I-league but for the first time in ISL we were happy to play alongside world cup stars. Of course I was glad to see him for the first time in pre-season in hotel and felt really great to play with him although I have not followed him much. We weren’t expecting that a league named ISL will come and big names will play in it.
Players were not at their prime, but as always form is temporary and class is permanent. It was bliss to watch their first touch, movement and everything. Kostas and David didn’t talk much but we did learn a lot from them. They play with such commitment and we learned that as well from them.
Q. DO YOU FEEL THAT TAMIL NADU FOOTBALL IS GETTING SOME LIMELIGHT AMONG INDIAN FOOTBALL?
Of course, recently I was very happy with the way our girls played in Santosh Trophy and won the title. We focus only on Men’s football in spite of that they won the championship.
It’s a big achievement for us and it should not stop with this. They should be provided with every facility they require and support which is the most needed at this time. Beating Orissa, Bengal and Manipur is a big achievement and it’s a big surprise.
Now, we are getting recognized by the entire nation and coaches around the country. So, we should not stop with this and carry the momentum forward.
Q. HOW WILL YOU DIFFERENTIATE I-LEAGUE AND ISL?
First of all I don’t see both leagues in a different way. We players play the same football where ever we play and it’s in the hands of media who are telecasting it. The way they are advertising both leagues is totally different and people are differentiating as a player I don’t feel any difference.
I have played in both leagues and both are of same standards and only difference is that timing and telecast of the matches are not same. For instance, Eduardo played in ISL for Pune City FC and now playing for East Bengal with the same commitment which he showed in both leagues. As a player we give our best no matter in which league we play.
Q. WHAT ADVICE YOU WANT TO GIVE TO BUDDING FOOTBALLERS IN TAMIL NADU?
Don’t ever go in search of money but do go where you get play time. Because, experience matters more than money. That’s what I always tell to young footballers every time and with experience you can reach heights.