It is not often that a footballer from India gets a chance to train at the famed Manchester United Soccer School in London. In November, city students Porus Shroff, 16, and Ashish Sharma, 15, will be among the twelve chosen players from India who will be training there for a week.
"I hope I get a chance to see the players I have idolized on television. I am looking forward to learning as much as I can from the camp especially with regards to fitness and maintenance of high energy levels throughout the match", said Sharma.
In July, more than 3,000 students from Mumbai attended a four-day selection camp at Parel, out of which, three were shortlisted for the national selection camp at Bangalore. During the five-day selection camp at Bangalore, four Manchester United coaches trained 52 players from across the country before narrowing down to the top 12 who will train with the Manchester United academy team.
"The coaching in Bangalore comprised dedicated sessions for one-on-one attack, combined attack and a number of match-like scenarios to showcase our potential," said Shroff, a class 11 commerce student at HR College, Churchgate.
Both Shroff and Sharma have been playing for the state and district level football teams respectively.
In 2011, Shroff captained the under-16 Maharashtra team at the Mir Iqbal Hussain tournament, which is an annual sub-junior tournament conducted to select the national under-16 team.
While Shroff plays for the Kenkre football club representing it in international tournaments at Sweden and Finland this year, Sharma was part of the Mumbai under-16 team that won at the district level in February.
"The training sessions were physically demanding as we trained for almost five hours every day. It was necessary to recover after training to be fully fit the next day," said Sharma, class 10 student at Rizvi School in Bandra, who plays football every evening at the Shivaji ground, Kurla.
Balancing academics with football is a common challenge facing the boys.
"Even the best players in the world play only until they are about 35. After that, educational qualifications come in handy," said Sharma, who is preparing for his board exams next year.
While Sharma is a Nani fan (Manchester United) and Shroff an Arsenal fan, both boys strongly believe in the bright future of Indian football.
"We (India) defeated Cameroon, one of the strongest African football nations," said Shroff referring to the recent Nehru Cup victory of the national team. "More people are showing interest in football. It is only a matter of time before the interest shows in the performance."