For 15-year-old Mani Maran R, playing football provides an opportunity to earn a livelihood, as it is his prowess as a player that got him admission to a government school.
Earlier this month, it was the same skill set that took Maran to Scottish giants, Celtic Football Club, and the 9th grade student of the Government Sports High School, Vidyanagar impressed the club authorities enough to field him in their under-16 team against the visiting Monash Club from Australia.
Maran, along with Bishal Harizan and Jayanta Mondal from Kolkata, was sent for a 10-day training camp to Glasgow as part of the Mahindra Youth Challenge, the second edition of which was launched in the city on Wednesday.
The event is conducted in six cities with selected players sent to Glasgow for training. “They introduced us in front of about 60,000 spectators before the senior game and that was an awesome feeling,” said Maran, who lost his father just before he enrolled for the Mahindra Challenge last year. His mother passed away when he was very young, while his elder brother Mani Vannan also plays football and recently signed up for ADE Club in Bangalore.
While the trio trained at the academy with the under-15 and under-19 squads, Maran was the only one to be picked for a competitive game. Speaking about his future, he insisted that he would look for a club soon after completing his basic education, since he also needed to earn.