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I thought I was talking to my family for the last time: Manipuri footballer Sana recalls the night when his home was torched

First Published: 30th July, 2023 20:41 IST

Sana was so worried that he stayed up the whole night talking to his mother, fearing for the safety of his family

Manipuri footballer Chinglensana Singh, or Sana, who has defended India`s Football team, couldn’t defend his house and turf from burning in Churachandpur amid the ongoing violence in Manipur.

The 27-year-old player Sana, who plays for India and ISL club Hyderabad FC as defender, is now homeless as a mob set fire to his house in Churachandpur.

He still remembers the fateful night of May 3rd, when he received a call from his mother back home.
Sana was on Hyderabad FC duty at that time, playing in Kerala, and was worried at the sight of multiple missed calls. When he called back home after the match, the Indian defender heard his mother crying as the sound of gunshots echoed.

“I thought maybe I would miss all of them. I’m talking to them for the last time. I don’t know how to express that feeling. It was very scary,” Sana told Northeast Live as he narrated the fateful night of May 3.

“I told my mom, please do not hang up the call, please be on the line,” Sana said in a shaky voice.

Sana was so worried that he stayed up the whole night talking to his mother, fearing for the safety of his family.

Fortunately, his family was rescued by the Army the next day and sent to a relief camp in Moirang. His house was burned to ashes, and even a football field he had installed for neighbourhood kids was destroyed.

“I heard news of a house being destroyed, burned, and torched. After a few hours, the football turf that I built in the locality in Churachandpur, Tuibong, is being burned and destroyed as well,” Sana said.

Recalling the heart-breaking scenes of his football turf being destroyed, Sana said, “I had a big dream of providing a platform to the youngsters coming up in Churachandpur. They are really talented, but they couldn’t afford a football school. So my dream was to provide them a platform where they could become professional players, play for the national team, become great players for the country, and help their families as well.”

Sana rushed back home days later, depriving himself of the India berth for two crucial tournaments.

“I was called on the national team to represent the country, which I couldn’t do given the situation back home, which was very difficult for me to not be part of the team. Because playing for the country is the highest honour and everyone’s dream,” Sana added.

Sharing that he has to stand by his family’s side in these hard times as their strength and support, Sana expressed that the decision to not be part of the Indian team was not easy.

“My decision to not go was never easy, but as we understand, family in our lives is the most important thing. So I had to be with them in the most difficult moments and times of our lives. I had to be there for them as a source of strength and support. So that was my decision not to be part of the Indian team. In a footballer’s life, playing for a country does not come every now and then. We hardly play around 10 matches a season in a year.”

The Violence that happened in Manipur, particularly to his family, halted Sana’s career.

Also Read: Story of a Good Samaritan: Naga officer reaches out to Manipur victims

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