Colaba Municipal School, who are making their maiden appearance at the inter-school football tournament, are on a roll. Yesterday, they beat St Mary's (Kalina) 3-1 via tie-breaker to reach the quarter-final of the U-16 Div IV at Azad Maidan.
Rakesh Sakpal. Pic/Suresh KK
The Colaba lads, who hail from different slums around Badhwar Park, Ambedkarnagar, BMC Chawl, Dhobhi Ghat etc, are bound by the love for football. The interest soared after one of their players, Rakesh P Sakpal was picked for a six week training programme at the Queens Park Rangers (QPR) football academy in London under the Milind Deora Jr Soccer Challenge earlier this year.
Yesterday, though it was a collective effort that sealed it for the Colaba side. After the boys fought tooth and nail to hold the Kalina side 0-0 at full time, 'keeper Mandar Kamble came up with three saves in the penalty shoot-out. Colaba's Sakpal, Akash Rathod and Deepak Kanojiya found the net in the tie-breaker, while only Bipin Rawat was on target for St Mary's.
Coach Jagdeep Dhanu said was proud of his boys. "Initially, it was tough to convince most parents to send their kids to play football, but after Rakesh's selection things have changed. These kids train hard and are keen to do well in their first year at MSSA. I hope they can go far in the tournament," he said.