For Krishna Pandit, the past one and a half week has been like a dream. Few days ago, the budding player represented Chandigarh in a national-level private football talent hunt.
The team went on win the title and Pandit pocketed Rs 50,000 after being adjudged one of the best players from the city. Now, the 14-year-old striker has landed an opportunity of a lifetime: He has been selected for Fifa's (football's international governing body) regional academy in Bangalore, slated to start in September this year.
Pandit's four years of stay at the academy will not only see him get "state-of-the-art training facilities", but the lad will have a chance to go abroad for one year and gain international exposure.
"I am simply excited. To be a part of an exclusive group of youngsters, picked up to train at the one of the finest football facilities in the country, is like a dream come true," said Pandit, who studies at St John's School and has been playing football for the last eight years.
For Sanjeev Maria, a former India player who has been voluntarily coaching Pandit for the past one-and-a-half year, the lad has got what he deserved. "I personally believe that Krishna is one of the country's best in his age group.
He has proved it time and again by bringing in different state, national and international tournaments. If his talent is polished properly, the boy can make to the Indian team in coming future," he said. Pandit's showing in AFC's (Asian Football Confederation) under-14 football tournament, held in Kathmandu this April, substantiates Maria's faith.
The lad played five matches and with eight goals, was the leading scorer in the tournament. He also captained the Indian team in two matches.
According to Maria, now that Pandit has got the chance to train at the Fifa academy, his skills and talent can only get better. "Krishna has got the talent, the game sense and the physique necessary for a good footballer. His skills can only get better at the academy, for there he can devote his complete time to the game without thinking about diet, studies, etc. All those things will be provided by the academy."
Ask Pandit about one thing that has helped him in his achievement and the teenager says: "The unending support of my family, especially my father (Ramneek Lal Sharma). It was he who initiated me into the game as he is a great football buff himself. His faith motivates me."