Hours of training and hard work on the beach is paying off for St Joseph's High School (Juhu) who stormed into the quarters of the Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) boys' U-16 Division IV inter-school football tournament at Azad Maidan yesterday. Given the lack of a training ground at their school premises, coach Henrique Rodrigues trains the boys at the nearby Juhu beach. And sweating it out across the sandy terrain has improved the boys' speed and skill.
"The boys practice twice a week at Juhu beach and their drills involve a two kilometer run besides stretching exercises and practice matches with senior players, who represent local clubs in the big leagues. It's difficult to run on sand but it helps builds their stamina. Also, after running on sand, it is a lot easier to run on hard ground, and this makes the boys a lot faster when they play in the MSSA tournament," explained coach Rodrigues, whose sole aim is to see the team earn a promotion into Division III.
The boys were undoubtedly quicker than their opponents, Swami Vivekanand International School (Borivli), in the outfield yesterday and Cyrus Pereira's lone strike was enough to send them into the semi-finals. Cyrus was spot on with his tap in from close range in the 14th minute, beating SVIS goalkeeper Harshil Goradia to his right.
Striker Cyrus said the beach training has helped improved their endurance levels, which means they are never out of a match even if they are a goal or two down. "Training on the beach has helped increased our stamina, so we can still run fast or take powerful shots even in the dying moments," said Cyrus.