The most secretive country tour from the world, at the same time, when he is fighting with the world’s strongest country.
This can not be a normal day for any football player.
Bangalore FC, which participated in the Indian Super League, went to North Korea to fight Pyongyang 4.25 SC in the AFC Cup tournament last week.
You can call it the Asia version of Europa League.
Missile view from the hotel
In addition to this match, the players of the team had to undergo tension related to loss of luggage, Supreme Leader Kim Jong related to them and his recent Missile Test of Miyam and North Korea.
BBC Sport interacted with former Australian midfielder Eric Paraslu, who was associated with the team and you will be surprised by what he told you about this trip.
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Paratalu said, “Missile Test was performed on the last day of our tour which we could see from our hotel room. How can you prepare for something like this before. ”
In the first leg of the AFC Cup Inter Zone semi-final played in India, Bengaluru beat the North Korean team 3-0.
There was a lot of tension before going
The second match was played at the May Day Stadium of North Korea’s capital Pyongyang, which was a 0-0 draw and the Indian team reached the finals.
But the 31-year-old Parlalu was skeptical about this match. He also raised the question through social media whether it is safe to visit North Korea.
After this, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) sent its delegation in North Korea and said there was no problem in touring.
Parlasu said, “Where there is war or instability, it is a different matter to play there but the story of North Korea is very different.”
Pyongyang arrived two days ago
“The Australian government has issued a warning, in which its citizens have been instructed not to go there. There is no embassy there and the threat of nuclear war was going on. ”
They said, “When we arrived there, we had to pay attention to the work, but when we were off, we were going to a place about which nothing is known.”
The team first went to Mumbai, from there Beijing Capital of China and then North Korea’s Capital Pyongyang. The team arrived there just 48 hours before the start of the match.
Paratalu said, “When we arrived there the eyes were left open. Whatever you see and hear in the news, it is totally different from experience and going there. The landing at almost empty airport was a different experience in itself. ”
Lost the baggage, then waited
“It was an international airport but only one plane stood there. There was no confusion with the baggage and we had to spend two hours there. During this time, the whole staff went and light also went. We were alone at the airport. ”
The team had to give their mobile phones and tablets so that the images kept in them could be examined. Apart from this, the goods were searched and it was also instructed that they should be careful while photographing in North Korea.
“The most interesting thing was that we shared some jokes associated with North Korea on the Whatsapp group, in which Kim Jong was referring to them. Before we were off, before all such messages were asked to be deleted. We were sitting there when someone came and grabbed me. ”
“I was hoping there would not be twitter because I had a joke to meet Kim for the drink.”
Many team bags that included kits, boots and balls were lost on the way. Because of this, some players have to buy shoes from the hotel shop. Paraslu said that he was charged with 150-200 dollars for fuzzy shoes.
He said, “We did not have any boot, training kit and football for the first practice session. The shoes we bought, their quality was not right, the size of some were not correct. In the professional environment, you do not expect such things. When we arrived at the hotel from the ground, suddenly all our belongings had arrived there. ”
No phone, no internet
In this tour the player could neither use the phone nor the internet.
“We reached the hotel in the evening and wondered why the street lights were not burnt. Someone said that it was done so that no one could see Pyongyang from the satellite.
Paratalu said, “When you arrive at the hotel for the first time, it realizes that it is like another place. But there was a TV in the lobby and Kim Jong was peeping with the picture. As soon as you enter, the propaganda starts. ”
Did not let go alone
“You feel that what you are seeing is all that they want to show. There is always a question in question whether all this is really real. Kim Jong was the poster of his father and grandfather everywhere, even bigger than that. Everyone was very patriot. ”
“Pyongyang’s population is 26 lakhs, so you wonder what 23 million people living outside of it do.”
The team never went out alone and at every step she got directions. He said, “People were very helpful. All had to wear pin badges with photographs of the country’s flag or ruling family. ”
Why was the stadium empty?
“If they are looking at you and If you look at them, they immediately remove their eyes. As if they had realized that they did not want to see them.
The player said, “There was not much talk, but if you say hello, they used to say hello and smile.”
The match of football was played at the big day stadium but according to Parluu, only 8-9 thousand people reached this match. “The stadium was quite big, if the atmosphere was full, the atmosphere would have been different but it did not do with 9000 spectators.”
All during the match
“Even during the warm-up, the atmosphere was very fervent. Many children wearing a red color touch were chairs. But when the match started, there was complete peace. It was not like the crowd of England but they used to think football. Just that his style was different. ”
“We were focusing on what we have to do. They were attacking and we rescued. We wanted the result of the match. His team played pretty well in the second leg. North Korean football is very strong. We ourselves saw that the 4.25 team had all the facilities. ”
If the Bengaluru team wins, Parlulu said, “It came in my mind also. The boys were joking that if we managed to score goals, we would not celebrate. But the match draws 0-0. I thought it was a draw for most of the viewers, they did not even know what happened in the first leg match. ”
The match was played on 13 September and the team could not leave North Korea for two days. He did some training and also a tour, which was a set-up tour according to Paraludu.
On Friday morning, when he opened his eyes, it was discovered that North Korea has tested ballistic missile over Japan.
He said, “There were six channels in the hotel with some sugar, a propaganda channel and one al Jazeera.”
What is North Korean
“When we were inquiring about the missile, someone said that if you were standing outside the hotel at six o’clock in the morning, he could see the missile himself. It was released from the airport and its way was clear. ”
“The boys looked towards each other as they are saying that they go from here immediately. I do not think the people of North Korea are fully aware of the situation. ”
“When our players asked some questions in front of the guide, they said that they are doing all this for their safety and the Supreme Leader has shown that they can compete with the USA. It seems that all this has been done in his mind that North Korea is strong and the US weakens. It was pretty strange all this. ”
Is a beautiful country
“North Korea is a very beautiful country. Blue sky, trees, fields and greenery You do not feel anything strange. If I was not playing soccer, I would never have been able to enter North Korea. ”
Paratalu said, “I will never forget this trip, so glad I got this opportunity. People will keep asking me about it for many years. More people can not say that they have visited North Korea.
What did you learn from the tour?
“The biggest lesson I learned from this tour is that do not believe in whatever news is shown in it. There is a group of people or some people who think weirdly. I felt bad for those people who were smiling at that. Thinking that these countries can disappear from the map and the people of the Khamiyazah will have to suffer, it feels very bad. ”
Paratalu said, “After the match, I put the North Korean team’s striker on the throat and greeted me with a smile. The game brings people closer, so football is a beautiful game