The young ones always look up to their seniors, draw inspiration from them and always look to emulate their feat. Minerva Academy FC is fortunate to have a senior team that the juniors can proudly look up to.
The seniors have made every head in Indian Football turn, having had a dream debut in the 2nd Division League to become the champions of the Western Conference on their way to earn the final round berth. That’s not all, they broke and set many records in their maiden journey.
This is exactly what the Minerva Academy FC U-15 boys will look to emulate going into the U-15 Youth League, that kicks off in Chandigarh on Sunday. The young Minervans will open their campaign in the opening fixture against Delhi’s Conscient Football, which has a tie-up with FC Barcelona.
Sounding excited as always, director Ranjit Bajaj was confident of this young bunch who all have been scouted from across North India and North East. “Like the seniors, we have worked hard to get the best boys into the academy and make them gel as a team,” he said.
Pointing towards the boys, who were playing a practice match at the club ground, “See their way of playing now. The transformation they went through in these two months have been amazing….”
Before he could finish, the boys, wearing Blue Bibs threaded some fine passing between themselves and came up with a beautiful goal. “Saw the goal? This is what I am talking about. I sometimes feel they are better than the seniors,” he chuckled and added, “I am very hopeful that they will continue the wining tradition that the seniors have set up.”
Running around for close to hours now, after another 45 mins of warm-up, the boys were still full of energy. “We have given all the facilities that the seniors have enjoyed. This energy you are seeing is result of the tough drilling I have put them through in their training regime.”
Minerva Academy FC put lots of emphasise on the physical and mental strength of their players. Noted physical trainer from Gurgaon visits the academy thrice a week to take care of players’ physical aspect while every player has to compulsorily undergo mental conditioning at the club.
“Half the battle is won mentally. So whatever you do, you have to be mentally strong. So, I put great emphasise on this aspect,” and points towards coach Surinder Singh and continued, “Rest are taken care of by that Gentleman,” who just blew the long whistle.
As coach Surinder Singh walk towards Mr Ranjit, “He is a great coach. He did wonders with the seniors and I am confident, he will do the same with the U-15 boys also,” he said.
“If we keep playing like this, I am sure we will go the final round,” was the first thing that coach told the director as they got engulfed in serious discussions.
Players meanwhile were cooling down with drinks while couple of them were looking for the physio, who was already engaged, stretching out the team’s No. 10. On asking the physio Abhijit Kar if the boy was injured, “No, its nothing serious. Just a routine massage,” he replied.
“Boys, put on your tracksuits, its very cold,” was the voice that echoed next, as coach Surinder completed his discussion with Mr. Ranjit Bajaj. “Let’s wrap up here for today. We have had enough,” he instructed the boys.
“Seriously, these boys are brilliant. Working with kids will make you feel that India has a bright future,” he said with his trademark smile and continued, “But now, the focus is on U-15 Youth League.”
“It’s good that we will be playing in Chandigarh but I don’t count that as an advantage. Only what you do during the 90 minutes on the field matters,” coach responded on being asked if playing in Chandigarh gives them an edge over the opponents.
“All the teams are from North India. We all experience the same climate, eat more or less the same food. So, Chandigarh will not offer opponents anything new. It will be the same as what they have in their home town,” explained Surinder Singh to play down the advantage card.
By this time, players had assembled for a prayer and the coach beg excuse to be with them as he makes one last enquiry about his players injury and fitness.
“ALL FIT” was the sound that echoed. Nothing pleases a coach more than having his full squad fit before going into an important competition like the U-15 Youth League.
Minutes later, LONG LIVE MAFC, LONG LIVE MAFC, LONG LIVE MAFC was heard, as the team gets pumped to conquer the Youth League.
THE SQUAD :
Luntinmang Haokip, Vivek Negi, Gurpreet Singh, Arshdeep Singh, Nikashan Jha, Hrithik Bharadwaj, Shaurya Sharma, Saroj Rai, Ayan Lall, Rajinder Singh, Linthoingamba, Gobind Bahadur, Ranbir Singh, Shubham Sarangi, Tom Cruise, Mohammad Ajrudin, Amarjeet Misra, Harshdeep Singh, Arjit Rawat, Moirangthem Gibson Singh, Thounaojam Jackson Singh, Anwar Ali, Moirangthem Thoiba Singh, Taranpreet Singh, Jagjeet Singh, manvir Singh, Ashem Henba Meitei, Sahib Malik, Raju Kumar, Bharat Singh, Prasan Chettri, Shubham Pal, Narendra, Sukhandeep Singh, Ashray Bharadwaj