By Soumo Ghosh,
AIFF Media Team

KOLKATA: A number of brothers have enthralled fans of the Hero I-League with their performances. Be it the likes of Climax and Covan Lawrence in Dempo SC, or Michael Regin and Micheal Soosairaj at Chennai City FC — brothers playing for the same side have always been a spectacle.

The 2020-21 season of the Hero I-League is seeing another duo take to the pitch — this time with NEROCA FC badge gleaming on their chest – Nathaniel and Judah Garcia.

Having travelled all the way from Trinidad and Tobago, this duo of attacking players have brought some firepower to the NEROCA front line. While Nathaniel has already played in India last season for Gokulam Kerala FC, this is Judah’s first season in India.

“It’s really good to be here to play football. It’s good to see that League football continues in India with so many precautions being put in place for the Pandemic situation,” said Judah. “Not every country is so lucky.”

“My brother had played here last season and when he told me that there was an opportunity to play here, I was more than happy to hop on the plane with him. I’ve always wanted to play in another country.”

The Hero I-League 2020-21 season is being played from within the confines of a bio-secure bubble due to the ongoing COVID Pandemic. As part of the safety precautions, the players and officials are restricted to their hotel rooms, and movements can only be made of meals, training, and matches. And there are regular tests being conducted at regular intervals.

While such restrictions do affect individuals the Garcia brothers have been at a bit of an advantage.

“Yes, it’s a difficult proposition. Not only do you have to stay away from your family for so many months but you are also not allowed to step out of the hotel other than training or matches,” said Judah. “But having my brother as my roommate has really helped. Especially during the quarantine, when we were restricted to our room, having my brother with me in the room helped a lot.”

The two brothers recounted the surprise that their new teammates at NEROCA registered when the whole squad assembled in Imphal for their pre-season training.

“They were not exactly sure if we were brothers. Some thought that we just happened to have the same last name. Some asked whether we are cousins,” laughed Nathaniel, who is the older of the two brothers. “But we cleared all their doubts. Yes, we are brothers from the same parents.”

Growing up in the Garcia household, both Nathaniel and Judah started playing a number of sports in their younger days.

“We have an older brother who played both cricket and football. We also played a few sports, but eventually, we began to concentrate on football, and now we are not only playing for the same club together but also for the National Team as well,” said Nathaniel.

Having played together since childhood, the two brothers claim to have developed an understanding in the opposition third, something that was on display when Judah, assisted by Nathaniel, produced a Hero of the Match performance against the Indian Arrows to help his side earn their first victory of the season on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.

“We have played together for a long time, at the same club, and for the National Team as well,” said Judah. “I play as a striker, and my brother is an attacking midfielder, so we have always had a bit of a chemistry between ourselves. I hope we can use that to score many goals this season.”