Utpal Borpujari

June 23, 2010

Young footballers hope to shine in South Africa

Filed under: Deccan Herald,Football,Media,Sport — Utpal Borpujari @ 3:00 pm
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By Utpal Borpujari

Fifteen-year-old Anto Xavier’s father works for a contractor in Bangalore, painting houses. His elder brother works as a salesman in a company while his younger sister is in school.

But Anto, 15, has much bigger plans for himself. He wants to be part of the Indian soccer team in 2014, when he says the country will reach the World Cup Finals.

His dream of seeing India in the next World Cup Finals may be quite far-fetched, but that of seeing himself don the India seniors jersey may not be.

A student of Bangalore’s Old Fort High School, Anto is already part of India’s Under-16 national team as a mid-fielder/defender and has every chance to become a member of the senior team in the near future.

Anto and 15 other kids like him, including Suhas Solur Narayanaswamy also from Karnataka, are on their way to the ongoing World Cup Finals in South Africa, as part of a Coca-Cola-sponsored All India Football Federation (AIFF) plan to give talented youngsters a feel of the big game atmosphere.

The Under-16 team, captained by Mizo lad Lalnunfela, will be watching the South Africa-Uruguay match on June 16 and after that will be in Pretoria to participate in a competition that will see teams of the same age group from various countries competing in a tournament aimed at nurturing young talent from the world over.

“I like football. I think football has a great future in our country and the South African tour will give us a big exposure,” Anto told Deccan Herald here on the eve of his departure for South Africa,

Suhas, 14, agrees. “I am sure India can play in the World Cup finals in the future, but it needs even more encouragement than now. Now only cricket gets all the encouragement from the people and the government. This kind of tour will help us a lot,” says Suhas, a student of DYSS Sports School in Bangalore’s Vidhya Nagar.

Suhas, unlike Anto, has football in his blood. His grandfather S T Thimmayah, he points out, had played for Karnataka, while his father, S T Narayanswami, had played club level football. “I want to play for India in the World Cup Finals,” is his slogan.

AIFF general secretary Alberto Colaco, who presented the team before the media at a felicitation event in the capital, said tournaments like the Coca-Cola Mir Iqbal Hussain Trophy among schools from all over the country was proving to be a great help in unearthing talent from the grassroots level.

Some of such talents, such as Sukhpreet Singh from Gurdaspur, Budhraj Soren from Patna, Mohit Kumar Rana from Varanasi, Shobham Basnett from Sikkim, Constancio Manuel Rodrigues from Goa, Ijasali Kunnan from Moorkanadu and Rupart Lamlang Mongrum from Shillong, are part of the U-16 team going to South Africa.

(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 15-06-2010)



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