Road running

Gou Kuki: Footballer from tribal heartland a shining light in Sudeva's grim campaign

Sudeva Delhi FC are languishing at the bottom of the I-League points table, but one player who has caught the eye of connoisseurs is defensive midfielder Lunkim Seigoulun Khongsai, better known as Gou Kuki.

“I think I was around five or six years old when I started playing football. I’m from the Kuki tribe, one of Manipur’s three major ethnic groups. I was born in a little town called Tuibuong in the Churachandpur district of Manipur,” said Gogou, demonstrating his humble beginnings, which are evident in his character as a player both on and off the field.

With his idol as Cristiano Ronaldo, known for his determination, hard work, passion for the game, and winning mentality, Gogou pushes himself to try and win every game, follow the coach’s tactics and game plan, and maintain a professional attitude.

The members of the Kuki tribe are predominantly a farming society that works on paddy fields.

The 22-year-old Gogou has been part of the Sudeva Delhi FC academy for a few years, and even had a stint in the Spanish third division as part of an exchange programme. He has been part of Sudeva Delhi’s Hero I-League journey since 2020-21, but it is this season that he has become one of the first names on the team sheet.

Gou Kuki of Sudeva Delhi FC (I-League)

He started in every game and has racked up almost as many minutes in the current half a season as he did during the entirety of the previous two. He leads Sudeva’s charts in terms of passes, tackles, dribbles, challenges won and ball recoveries in the opposition half.

“Every single game is a learning experience for me. I have improved in various areas. Being a regular starter has not only enhanced my calibre, but also boosted my confidence altogether,” said Gogou.

As seen by his pressing and playmaking prowess, and for a player of his age, continued hard work will help him mature into a reliable and all-round midfielder in the years to come.

“My preferred position is defensive midfielder, but I can also play as an attacking midfielder, which is what I want to do in the future. As a player, I want to improve my ball-distributing skills and support my teammates. Along with that, I also want to play to the best of my abilities and increase my pitch awareness,” he revealed.

“My ultimate goal is to represent my country in the senior national team and make my family and loved ones proud,” he concluded.

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