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Most of the talented football players in India have risen from the northeastern states, Kerala and West Bengal over the years. However, ahead of the Khelo India University Games, the tide seems to have change. Panjab University, who clinched gold at the All India University competition, is aiming to replicate their performance at the University Games later this month. Universities from Punjab will be the teams to beat at KIUG.
Punjab has produced some of the best footballing prodigies in the past and clubs like JCT FC has played a major role in this development. Over the past few years there was a considerable dip in performance of the state when it came to football, but with the rise of clubs like Minerva Fc and its home grown academies there has been a resurgence of sorts and now we have quality football players across universities in the state.
After successfully conducting three editions of the Khelo India Youth Games, the Sports Ministry is looking to unearth more talent at the university level through the Khelo India University Games. The tournament will be held in Odisha from 22 February to 1 March 2020.
"All the football teams at the University Games will be good, but I think the University of Kerala will pose tough competition for us. We won gold at the All India University competition in December after defeating Punjabi University in the final. We will look to replicate our performance at the Khelo India University Games," said Jatin Yadav from Panjab University.
Yadav added that the Panjab University has provided all the necessary equipment for the players to carry out their training.
"The coaches and the teachers at our university are helping us a lot. We have been provided with all the equipment for our preparations. We carry out our practice sessions at the university," said the 20-year-old.
Tapas Mazumdar from Kolkata University feels that Adamas University from Kolkata and Panjab University from Chandigarh will pose a tough challenge for them.
"The Adamas University from Kolkata and Panjab University from Chandigarh will be the tough competitors for us at the Khelo India University Games. I have not played in any of the Khelo India Games. However, I have heard a lot about the Khelo India Games. So we will perform well and make a mark in the competition," said the defender.
Mazumdar added that the Khelo India University Games will be a good platform for all athletes to showcase their talent.
"I feel the Khelo India University Games will be a good platform for us to showcase our skills. The competition will help me move forward in my football career. It's great to see the Indian government starting many initiatives to improve the sporting culture in India," said the 22-year-old.