Carlos Pao’s Journey to the Big Leagues

Gretchen D. Barretto
3 min read
June 27, 2024

Hriivei Carlos Pao, a dynamic 20-year-old footballer from Manipur, is making a name for himself in the I-League with TRAU FC. His love for football took root in his childhood and has driven him ever since. After honing his skills in Garhwal, Pao recently made a bold move to TRAU FC, marking yet another exciting chapter in his rising career.

Early Beginnings and Local Development

Pao’s foray into football started at the tender age of seven. He began by playing with his elder brother and gradually advanced to playing with seniors in school and local teams. His talent was nurtured at the local academy Senapati FC, where he trained with senior players. It was here that his coach, Akshay, saw his potential and encouraged him to try out for the Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools (BBFS) in Delhi.

Academy Years: Growth and Recognition

During a friendly match between BBFS’s Under-15 I-League team and the residential academy at Vedas, Pao’s skills caught the eye of Vivek Rawat. This encounter led to his admission into the residential academy at Vedas, where he spent three transformative years.

Motivation and Passion for the Game

For Pao, the primary motivation to excel in football comes from his aspiration to play for top Indian clubs, particularly in the Indian Super League (ISL). “My sole motivation is to play for the top clubs in India, especially in the ISL. This goal drives me to work hard every day,” he says. Football, for Pao, is more than just a game; it is a source of peace and a way to alleviate stress. “Football is my therapy. It helps me get rid of any stress and gives me peace. It’s what I enjoy the most,” he adds.

Handling Pressure: Routine and Preparation

Handling pressure is an essential aspect of any athlete’s life, and Pao believes in the power of preparation and routine. “I handle pressure by starting my mornings on a good note—being prepared and organized, following a routine. When I put in more effort, the pressure diminishes. This is why I keep working hard,” he explains. This disciplined approach has been instrumental in his success.

Training at BBFS: A Turning Point

Training at BBFS has been a pivotal part of Pao’s development. The academy offers comprehensive training programs that include gym sessions, interactive off-field training, and meticulously planned on-field routines. The coaches at BBFS are known for their transparency and dedication, providing individualized attention and support to ensure every player can catch up and improve. “Training at BBFS is excellent. The coaches work hard to solve our challenges both on and off the field. They make us feel comfortable, which helps clarify our goals,” Pao shares.

Balancing Academics and Football

Balancing academics and training can be challenging for many young athletes, but Pao has managed it by maintaining a structured daily routine. Despite not focusing extensively on studies, he ensured that his academic responsibilities were not neglected, fitting in study time between his training sessions. “I don’t study much, but we have a balanced schedule. Training in the morning, followed by breakfast, a shower, and a nap. There’s time in between for studying, which I used to do sometimes,” he notes.

Memorable Moments and Influences

One of Pao’s most memorable moments at BBFS was his promotion from the Under-18 team to Garhwal. In a crucial match where the team was down 0-2, his entry in the last 60 minutes turned the game around, leading to a victorious comeback. “When I got promoted from the Under-18 team at BBFS to Garhwal, the team was down 0-2. I was put in during the last 60 minutes, and we ended up winning the match. It was an unforgettable experience,” he recalls. Neymar, with his smooth playing style and ability to outmaneuver defenders, is Pao’s football idol. “Neymar is my biggest role model. I love the way he plays, the smoothness, how he dances with the ball, and fools the defenders,” he says. Neymar’s influence is evident in Pao’s own style of play, characterized by agility and flair.

Gratitude and Advice for Aspiring Players

The coaches and staff at BBFS have played a crucial role in Pao’s overall development, both as a player and as a person. Their transparent and approachable nature fostered a supportive environment, making them more like brothers than authority figures. This camaraderie, coupled with financial support when needed, helped Pao navigate the challenges of his early career. “The coaches and staff at BBFS are very transparent and open. They never made us fear them; they were like brothers to us. They provided help whenever needed, even financially,” Pao emphasizes. For aspiring footballers, Pao’s advice is clear: BBFS is the best residential academy with top-notch facilities and certified coaches. He emphasizes the importance of discipline, dedication, and self-belief, alongside a balanced diet tailored to athletic needs. “Aspiring players should be very disciplined and dedicated to their goals, regardless of the weather. Most importantly, they should believe in themselves and seek help from the Lord,” he advises.

Looking Ahead: Goals and Dreams

Looking ahead, Carlos Pao is excited about continuing his journey, working hard, and enjoying every moment. His ultimate goal is to play in the ISL and represent the national team, a dream that seems well within reach given his determination and the solid foundation laid by his training and experiences so far. “I’m excited to keep working hard and enjoy every moment of my journey. My ultimate goal is to play in the ISL and for the national team,” he concludes.

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