“It’s not just a game of winning and losing, it’s the game of life. When I play, I put my life into the game,” says 15-year-old Aakash Dave, who won the last season of Bajaj Allianz Junior Football Camp. This season commenced on June 1, giving young footballers an opportunity of a lifetime. There will be trials at over 50 schools in each city, including Pune where two of the best players from each school will be selected between June 1 and June 15. Only 100 teenagers will be shortlisted to participate in the city finale. Out of them 15 will then compete with their counterparts at the national finals in mid-July.
Post that five youngsters will be chosen for a sponsored camp at Munich, Germany where they will get professional training, and will get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet their favourite players. “It is terribly difficult for me to choose the best players from the hundreds of kids that come for the camp. Every one has a dream shining in their eyes and a passion burning in their hearts,” says Arata Izumi, jury member. “We focus on the basic knowledge of the game and the skill of each candidate for selection,” he adds.
The Junior Football Camp jury comprises veteran players including Paresh Shivalkar, Mid-fielder, Pune FC, Derrick Pereira, former Indian International defender and Head Coach Pune FC and Arata Izumi, Japanese mid-fielder, Pune FC. The trio will be on the hunt for worthy candidates for the fully-sponsored international camp at Munich.
Ask Dave about how his trip was to Munich, and he is all smiles. “I went there to play, not for a holiday. I learnt a lot from the professional players. We saw Thomas Müller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Tim Chahill, David Alaba, Manuel Neuer, Mario Gomez practicing at the arena, and they even taught us a lot about physical fitness, technique and skill training,” shares Dave. So here’s calling all young football enthusiasts of the city to pull up their sock and gear up for this game.