The junior football team of Apeejay School, Noida, is vying for first place in this year’s Hindustan Times Great Indian Football Action (HT GIFA). The team was the runners’ up in last year’s tournament and wish to improve their standing this year.
According to the team, participating in GIFA last year gave their confidence a boost and made them realise their talent in the game.
“Before GIFA, our parents never took us or the game seriously as cricket is more prevalent here. They would always tell us that it would be better if we played cricket. However, after we got to represent our school at the finals last year in GIFA, our parents are proud of us and support us as well,” said Prateek Chellani, team captain.
With 10 members, all aged between 14 years and 15 years, the team said they have improved upon their game and have learnt from their past mistakes at GIFA.
“Though our game was strong all through the GIFA tournament last year, there were some mistakes that stopped us from winning the first position. Hence, we have now decided that apart from training hard, we will also keep an eye on the game of other teams in order to know their strategies,” said Sarthak Semwal, mid-fielder.
The team’s coach said that playing at GIFA last year has made the students better players.
“The whole team is the same as last year. They had reached the finals and secured second position in the tournament, which has made them realise that the first position is not that far. In fact, they have become better players now and have matured in their game and strategies,” said the team’s coach Yusuf Ali.
The parents of the team members are also supporting their children and are excited about the tournament.
“It gives me immense pleasure to see my child play football at this ultimate soccer league. In a country where cricket is a religion, GIFA’s initiative to encourage budding footballers is a much-appreciated move,” said Govind Chellani, Prateek’s father.