BY NISANTH V EASWAR Follow @Niktheblue94 on Twitter
A year ago, Vishal Kaith was a fringe player. After learning his trade at the AIFF Elite Academy, the 21-year-old goalkeeper from Himachal Pradesh spent three very good years at Shillong Lajong under the tutelage of Thangboi Singto.
Then came the switch to FC Pune City where he spent his first year in its entirety on the bench. A year later, he is now the first-choice goalkeeper of Ranko Popovic's Pune City and has kept four clean sheets so far in the season, second on the list behind veteran Subrata Paul. Not a bad scale of progression for a 21-year-old goalie!
"The team is doing well. The basic motivation within the team is great. The players are gelling well," said an excited Kaith in an exclusive interview to Goal before Pune City's game against Kerala Blasters.
Speaking about his development, Kaith believes that the first team chance he was provided with at Pune City helped him get better as a footballer.
"We have a lot of academies. We have more academies coming up as well. Because of FIFA U-17 World Cup, Indian Super League and I-League, there are a lot of players getting good training by good coaches. But it is always a better if a player is getting an opportunity at a team so that he can prove himself."
It wouldn't be wrong to say that the young goalkeeper has caught the eye of football fanatics across the country including coaches. In a season riddled with goalkeeping errors, the demand for solid gloves is pretty high.
"It is my first ISL. I was with the team last year but I was on the bench. This year, I got an opportunity. I was a bit nervous when I got my first chance but after a couple of games, I felt settled. Then I had back-to-back clean sheets. During my training, I make sure that my coach does not have any issues," says Kaith whom you might soon see in National team colours if he keeps up his rich vein of form.
"When it comes to taking the field, it is always the call of the coach whether to give me an opportunity. I will keep trying and hope that one day, I will be on the field for the National team."
Good coaching is a basic requirement for the development of any young footballer and Kaith, who has had the taste of both I-League and ISL, believes there is no difference between the standard of coaching in the two leagues.
"I-League has Indian coaches.Every coach has something new in him to teach to the players. ISL has foreign coaches who do the same. It is not about foreign or Indian."
At Shillong Lajong, Kaith played under Thangboi Singto who is now the assistant coach at Kerala Blasters. The goalkeeper had glowing praise for his master mentor.
"During my team at Lajong, I learned several things from Thangboi Singto. I was at that age where we learn a lot. He helped me learn. He is a good coach and I have a lot of respect for him."
Vishal Kaith, who is a big fan of goalkeeper Petr Cech, is on a dream run at the moment and he is focused on his career goals. It is refreshing to watch an Indian young goalkeeper excel in goal and not succumb to ridiculous blunders.