Chandigarh Football Academy trainees,Nishu and Gursimrat,cannot move to AIFF regional academy in Mumbai because of seven-year agreement with Chandigarh Sports Department.
Patience is a virtue for Nishu Kumar. Patience was the key when he moved from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh to Chandigarh three years ago in pursuit of his dreams. He also showed great resilience when it struck to him that he could not move to Mumbai,one of the AIFF regional academies,to fulfill his dreams as he was under contract with the Chandigarh Football Academy for two more years. If breaking the contract was a difficult proposition for him,leaving the academy,where he made more friends than back home,seemed even unthinkable.
“Chandigarh is a second home for me and I have made so many friends here that it would be difficult for me to leave them. Yes,I do want to appear in the trials at Pune but the agreement that I signed with the Chandigarh Sports Department doesn’t allow me to go join any other academy or club for two more years,” Nishu,16,said. Nishu was talking about the 10-day trials,for the selection of 30-35 boys for the regional academies to be set up by AIFF at eight different locations across India,starting from April 23. Nishu was not the lone player to be called for the trials. Gursimrat Singh,his other CFA mate,too was called but like Nishu,he was also bonded in an agreement. Timoi,who was put in the list of players in the waiting,meanwhile,left for Kolkata to be with his grandfather,who is battling with cancer in a hospital. The agreement was not the sole reason for not appearing in the trials. There were few other apprehensions too. “The selection process is very tedious. They will first select 50-60 players and after few months,trim it to 30 odd players. So,we were not sure. They wanted us to leave CFA and join their academy. Also,we know if we stay here at CFA and keep playing well,chances will come our way,” asserted Gursimrat.
In search of dreams
Last year,during the Indian Under-16 camp which went for almost 20 days,Nishu and Gursimrat got a chance to rub shoulders with the future of Indian football team. If in those 20 days they learned to flap their little wings,the pep-talk and those hours under the harsh sun taught them the biggest lessons of their lives: to keep patience.
“There were almost 40 players during the camp. Half of us had to come back,but the coach told us that we would get another chance in the future because we were among the best players in the country. So,we have still not lose heart,” said Nishu.
Daniel Lalhimpuia and AZ Lalramzauva,two of their illustrious mates from the academy,were picked up for the Indian Under-16 team after that camp,and they later went on to help India qualify for the 2012 AFC U-16 Asian Cup.
Apart from the camp,the next greatest moment in their lives was the title triumph in the Under-14 Subroto Cup,where they defeated Mizoram in the final. “That day is still vivid in our lives. We remember the floodlights,the high-octane match and the nerve-wrecking penalty shoot-out,” shared Gursimrat.
Follow the seniors
Though both the players are from different states-Nishu is from Uttar Pradesh while Gursimrat hails from village Sarabha in Ludhiana,Punjab- the common thread linking them together,other than the fact that they both play as defenders for their team,and leading them to the academy in Chandigarh,was their seniors.
Born in a middle-class family,where sports was not a part of everyday conversations,it was a surprise when Nishu expressed his desire to play football.
“Just next to our home,there was a football ground. So,every evening we would just go and kick the ball. Slowly,it became a habit and then I came in touch with Mayank,who was playing at CFA at that time. I listened to his advice to appear in the trials in Chandigarh,” Nishu,whose father is a clerk at a local school,remembered.
Gursimrat,who is from a state where football has advert followers,came to Chandigarh in hope of becoming like Ravinder Singh,a former trainee at CFA and who now plays for East Bengal.
“I always wanted to become a footballer. However,the first few months were awkward because we all were new. But gradually we became friends and we have become a family now,” said Gursimrat.
Gursimrat,the more luckier of the two,also got a chance to go to England,to practise at the Emirates Stadium-home to his favourite English Premier League club,Arsenal. The joy was cut short when he could appear in just two matches due to an injury. He was the captain of the team. Nishu,however,also fancies his chances to be a part of the final playing team that will get to train at the San Siro Stadium,owned by Serie A team- Inter Milan,in September later this year. That is,only if he performs well in the Tata Jaago Re camp to be held at Kolkata. However,before that there is the Manchester United Premier Cup (MUPC),to be held in the last week of April. “We have decided to skip the final of seven-a-side Tata Jaago Re tournament to be held in Sikkim,becuase we want to concentrate on the MUPC. Since it would be hot and humid in Kolkata,we now train during the day time to prepare ourselves for the energy-sapping duel,” said Nishu.