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For the love of the game

Statesman News Service |

statesman news service
KOLKATA, 25 JUNE: For Neil Taylor (in photo), the 24-year-old Welsh international and Swansea City’s left-back, his trip to Kolkata is more than just a jaunt down memory lane. Apart from revisiting old links ~ his mother was from Calcutta and he also had relatives here and in Delhi ~ this is also about understanding Indian football and making sure the beautiful game improves community life.
"I remember snatches about going to the Eden Gardens to watch cricket. But I did not have any memory of coming across football. Coming here and seeing how passionate people are about the game is a pleasant surprise for me," Neil Taylor said.
Taylor will be visiting the Kolkata Goalz project, a community service project  that uses football as a tool to inculcate leadership skills and developmental attributes among underprivileged children (between 12-18 years).
Community work is nothing new to Taylor, whose activity off the field saw him lift the Club Ambassador of the Year award at the end of the season awards at Swansea City. " Me and my wife, a care-worker, have tried to help out childrens’ charities and therapy centres that do not have proper funding. However, using football to teach kids to be better human beings is where I think I can contribute the most," he said.
Football, for Taylor, can teach one to cope with ‘disappointments’, a thing he knows well about ~ he had to sit out most of Swansea City’s Premier League campaign (2012-2013 season) after he fractured and dislocated his ankle in his team’s draw with Sunderland just three weeks into the season. "Injuries are a part of the game and sitting it out while your mates take the field is a big disappointment. But, times like these can also lend a fresh perspective and that is where the game can help in coping with it and coming out as a better and stronger individual," he added.  
Asked about his thoughts on the English Premier League sans Alex Ferguson, Taylor said, "Ferguson has been a symbol of constancy and his retirement is a huge loss. But with Mourinho coming in, it will be a whole new ball game." Swansea City, incidentally, will face Manchester United in their opening fixture and Taylor believes that they will have to do their best to get a result out of the game. "Players have a tendency to try to impress a new coach. The same will be true of David Moyes-led Manchester United."
About the toughest defender he has faced, Taylor said that Neymar had left him "seeing the back of his (Neymar’s) heels" when Wales took on Brazil in an international friendly. He also believes that the current crop of  Welsh players have what it takes to make it to the top tier of  international competitions.