By Nilanjan Datta, Margao, Mar 3 IBNS | 6 months ago

"Hey Boys, come over," National Coach Wim Koevermans gestured. The boys, all thirteen at the moment, had been long waiting for that call. But when the call actually came, they huddled together, each trying to push the other to lead the way.


The Indian Senior National team Players, all wet in perspiration after an intensive practice session, turned, sipped and waited.

At a snail's pace, the boys arrive.

You look into their eyes and rediscover yourself. Some two decades or more, their vision was yours; because at that time, you were at their age.

Koevermans turn to his wards, the Indian Seniors boys and queries: "Guys do you know who they are?"

The Senior Pros gauged it right. "They are All India Football Federation's Goa Regional Academy boys," someone stated.

"There's much more to it," Koevermans opined. "They are the boys who would be playing in the 2017 U-17 FIFA World Cup. They will be representing India in the World Cup," the Dutch Coach's introduction stayed complete.

The applaud from the Senior National Team boys was spontaneous. They clapped! The U-14 boys just couldn't believe what they saw and heard. Life they learnt for the umpteenth time is full of surprises.

"They have clapped for you. Now it's your turn to clap for them when we play Bangladesh,' Koevermans turned to the U-14 boys.

The shake of the head assured everyone that they would have done it in any case.

Mehtab Hossain, Clifford Miranda and others were talking to the boys by then.

"I am so jealous of them," Clifford stated.

Mehtab added: "Make no compromise in your play. Carry on the good work." The boys listened.

The U-14 boys from All India Football Federation's Regional Goa Academy have been based in Goa from February 2013, eleven months prior to India winning the bid to host the 2017 U-17 FIFA World Cup. At the moment, the Academy boasts of 26 boys. It's a residential one and AIFF besides the boarding and lodging is also taking care of the education of the boys.

"My real intention was to broaden their vision. It's not every day that you get to watch the National Team train in front of your eyes," Head Coach Narayana Menon VA stated.

"Meeting the Senior Team boys will motivate them further. Donning the National Colours is a dream for every Footballer, be it from any Nation. I need to thank Mr. Wim Koevermans for making this meeting happen," Menon added.

The boys stayed speechless for some time. But being a witness to the practice session further motivated them. AIFF Academy Goalkeeper Mohammad Nawaz who hails from Manipur, told www.the-aiff.com that he kept a close watch on the Goalkeeping drills. "The National Coach introduced us to the National Team Players. I am so happy. I got to interact with my Heroes," he said.

"I kept a close watch on the Goalkeepers. The manner in which they approached the session and continued the momentum all throughout was new to me. Someday, I dream to play for my Country too."

Hrishi Dhath, the Academy midfielder from Kerala made a special mention of the discipline within the National squad. "There's so much discipline in the Team. It's not only about the Players. Even the support staff were all engrossed with their own work. It's a proud moment for me to meet the National Coach and the Players."

Goan midfielder Ribhav Sardesai said it was "like a dream for him."

"It was a novel experience to watch the National Team train in front of our eyes. We all stayed glued to the Sessions and couldn't move our eyes. I am so thankful to our Coach for coordinating the Meeting. Meeting with Wim Koevermans was so special. I don't believe I shook hands with him. All of my heroes are together. I am still pinching myself."

The National Team posed for a picture with the Regional Academy boys. The future World Cup stars would treasure it for long.

(Posted on 03-03-2014)