Soccer fever catches up with Millennium City children
When arch rivals India and Pakistan were fighting it out in Birmingham last weekend, 10-year-old Hridai Khurana, unlike most of his peers, was not glued to the television screen.gurgaon Updated: Jun 19, 2013 00:54 IST
When arch rivals India and Pakistan were fighting it out in Birmingham last weekend, 10-year-old Hridai Khurana, unlike most of his peers, was not glued to the television screen.
Instead, the Class 5 student was dribbling a football under the guidance of an international coach even as it continuously drizzled.
Fuelled by their passions for soccer and the fact that football training academies are setting up shop here, hundreds of Gurgaon boys and girls, like Khurana, are learning the tricks of the game and prefer it over cricket, supposedly the most popular sport in India.
“Indian kids have the passion and the potential to play good football. At our academy in Gurgaon we have almost 70 children at the moment,” says Peter Douthit, an expat from the USA and the head coach of Excelsior Soccer Academy at Sushant Lok Phase I.
Providing training for football in Gurgaon for four years now, Douthit feels the enthusiasm for football has risen dramatically here.
“We hope to open more academies in the future to accommodate the growing enthusiasm and passion for football that exists among Gurgaon’s children,”he says.
India had the first taste of the FC Barcelona pie last year when the prestigious Spanish football club set up its soccer academy FCBEscola at Gurgaon’s Heritage School.
The technical director of FCBEscola, Antoni Claveria, says, “Despite lack of training and infrastructure, it’s amazing to see the enthusiasm shown by the city’s children in trying to emulate the skills of their European soccer heroes.”
Gurgaon children have the privilege of training under the India’s star footballer and longest serving captain of the national team Baichung Bhutia.
The Baichung Bhutia Football School being run at the city’s Ridge Valley school, has attracted many children. “More youngsters are taking the sport of football (and they even prefer it over cricket) in major cities across the country — which is a very positive sign for the game to develop in a city like Gurgaon with majority of its population comprising young working couples with their kids between the age group of 6 to 12 years,” says Bhutia.