Thirteen year-old Punekar destined for footballing pastures in Germany

Josh Pezarkar was scouted by Deutsches Fussball Internat, a boarding school, for his skill and professionalism.

pune Updated: Jun 25, 2018 17:07 IST
Pranav Shahaney
Pranav Shahaney
Hindustan Times, Pune
Football,Pune,Josh Pezarkar
Josh Pezarkar along with his coach Eric Turner at Ngarvala school ground in Pune.(SANKET WANKHADE/HT PHOTO)

While Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri’s rallying cry prior to the Intercontinental Cup final against Kenya may have brought out the inner patriotism among footballing faithful in the country, a number of unsung heroes continue to train day in and day out to ensure that one day India finds its place among football’s superpowers. Josh Pezarkar, the 13-year-old football sensation from Pune, could play an integral part of taking the country’s football dreams to the top, if things go as planned. The teenager has been scouted by Deutsches Fussball Internat, a German boarding school in Bad Aibling, that aims to promote the sport as a part of their curriculum and he is all set to move to Germany.

Pezarkar has been playing the beautiful game for the past eight years and plans to keep going for the next eighty if his body allows him to. He’s been kicking the football around ever since he joined school in 2009 and has grown to love the feeling of the ball glued to his cleats on the field of play.

“Both my elder brothers were playing football ever since they were kids so my mother encouraged me to take up the sport as well. Initially I played cricket and basketball, but once I got into football there was nothing that could take me away from the game. Even though my brothers stopped playing, I couldn’t resist getting on the pitch and playing,” said the central midfielder.

Pezarkar’s undying passion for the sport has seen reach new heights. He was a mainstay for his club and school before being scouted by football connoisseurs from Germany. Playing under coaches that have represented the national team and have years of coaching experience and qualifications under their belt could be what the St. Mary’s student needs to establish himself as a professional footballer.

The German boarding school has set up football camps in five cities in India to scout players aged 10 to 18 years. Pezarkar was one of the 24 that made the trip to Bad Aibling for a one and a half month training camp after, following a disciplined and resolute display; he was called up by the school to represent them.

“They sent my father an email telling him that I have been selected. The mail said that they were impressed, not only by my football skills, but also my discipline. I trained intensively there for a month and a half and I am extremely glad to have been selected by Deutsches Fussball Internat,” said Pezarkar.

While speaking about his discipline, Pezarkar threw light on one particular incident that impressed his coaches in Germany. After an exhibition game, he noticed that the stadium was littered with trash. So he joined the cleaning staff to help dispose the garbage. He was the only player to do it and this instance immediately made him the blue eyed boy from India.

Josh Pezarkar has been scouted by Deutsches Fussball Internat, a German boarding school in Bad Aibling, that aims to promote the sport as a part of their curriculum and he is all set to move to Germany. (SANKET WANKHADE/HT PHOTO)

Elic Turner, his coach and also the head coach and founder of PUFA, also joined in the discussion and complimented the midfielder’s work ethic and willingness to learn. He said, “We have players that come and go. They are just here to play the sport. However, that is not the case with Josh. He has stuck around the longest among any player and that is because of his professionalism. He sets an ideal for the players here and is absolutely open to any form of criticism as he knows we’re only trying to improve his game.”

Turner was also all praise for Pezarkar’s parents – Nuriel and Suvarna. He explained how Nuriel was always there for his son’s matches, motivating him from the sideline and bringing refreshments for his son during half-time. According to Turner, no other parent has been so hands-on with his child and he believes this has had a positive impact in making Josh the player he is today.

Nuriel, reacting to his son’s prospects in Germany, said, “Josh has always been extremely passionate about making a career out of football. Opportunities like these do not come along too often so we had to do all that we could to ensure he does something he is passionate about. He has currently signed a 5-year contract and will go to Germany on a student visa. The club is applying for his player visa for the under-15 league and it should arrive 6 months after he arrives in Germany. We’re hoping that this gets him a step closer to his dreams. His mother and I are always going to be there for him.”

Pezarkar continues to train diligently at the Pune United football academy (PUFA) every week and will carry on with the same regime until he has to pack his bags and head for Europe.

While he has no desire to shift to India permanently should he find a senior club there, he does have aspirations of representing the national team and possibly helping them qualify for their first ever World Cup.

Deutsches Fussball Internat

A German boarding school in Bad Aibling that deals with individual sports promotion and personal development

The target groups are children between the ages of 10 and 18 that show potential to become a football superstar

Selection and training camps are set up in a number of countries with their coaches present, ensuring that the only the best players get selected for the academy

Gives equal importance to sporting as well as academic excellence

Gives players an opportunity to trial at top German first and second division senior clubs and help them take their first step into professional football

Pune United football academy

A local club and academy at Kalyaninagar, Pune

It is dedicated to the development of young footballers. All training sessions conducted are of the highest quality and in accordance with the norms of the football association of England. (Football Association of England)

They aim to provide the best facilities and equipment to players and to inculcate self-discipline, social skills and self-confidence among their players.

First Published: Jun 25, 2018 17:05 IST