It is always a pleasure to see footballers undergo their daily training, with that look of determination upon their faces. The ephemeral touches of the ball; the sight of a group of footballers executing their skills and dribbles was what we were greeted with when we dropped into one of the team’s practice sessions at Jeppiaar Engineering College, Chennai.
We had a small chat with the college footballers 0f Jeppiaar Engineering College boys’ team consist of – Manikandan, Bala, Sherin and Lakshman. All spoke about the plethora of tournaments they took part and won with great enthusiasm. Besides the regular rigorous practice session, a couple of events truly test the grit, rival teams, tenacity and their playing technique and more.
The 18-year-old Manikandan, who hails from the state of Kanyakumari, says joining Jeppiaar College has improved his game and look forward to winning many titles.
“I’m thrilled to say that my experiences with the game improved from the day one I joined Jeppiaar Engineering College. It is a diverse group of players with multiple backgrounds but on the pitch we just play for the ball. They help their teams develop and grow by providing training, coaching and mentoring. It’s been a more of professional journey so far that is totally different from what I have experienced in my school and SAI (Sports Authority of India) days,” he said.
Bala, who is an ardent fan of Cristiano Ronaldo works hard to emulate his skills on the pitch. “I have admired Ronaldo for his dribbling skills, goalscoring ability and his incredible physique.”
“On my goal I tried to mimic my idol, the best in history, Cristiano Ronaldo. He got me into football and I try to play like him. I love Real Madrid,” said the 18-year-old Bala.
Playing simple football
The team has been practicing hard to ensure that they seal the Reliance Foundation Youth Sports Football Tournament with a gold medal this year. Their coach, Mr. Sathish Kumar has been instrumental in refining the team’s skills.
Sherin, the team’s defender is one who always tries to approach the game like Sergio Ramos and emulate his style of play every time he steps on the pitch. He said, ‘I was hooked pretty much from day one since I joined here. I became a more confident version of myself on the game. I need football in the mornings and evenings to be able to study in the night.’
“Jeppiaar is more than a team, even if you don’t play well, they will make you play and push you to the core with the rigorous training and make sure you get some playing time,” he added.
The team moves forward on the mantra of punctuality and discipline. The fact that almost every player on the current team has started playing football from scratch upon coming to Jeppiaar supports the above assumption.
When asked about the strategy of the team, Sherin said, “We enjoy ourselves on the pitch – playing simple football, quick one-two touches with mixtures of fun, exercise and particularly positional play with loads of touches.”
“The coach tells us to play, to enjoy ourselves on the pitch regardless of whoever we play – with responsibility. There is no lone star in our team; everyone has to play a part to get result,” he added.
Bala later spoke about his experience in the sport in Jeppiaar. He picked up the sport in the school and made great strides in a very short time. He credits a lot of his skill to the coaches who helped him improve since he joined the team.
Gunning for RFYS glory
Academics is one area which is bound to suffer due to intensive sports activities, but the problem becomes more serious because there are no holidays in tournaments. The team’s love for football, however, is the only force that keeps these players going despite all types of obstacles.
Another player, Lakshman, who is a goalkeeper of the team still reminisces about his diving penalty save in the last year finals. The Real Madrid fanatic and Iker Casillas admirer says that he is confident in his team, despite being wary of contenders like MCC, Loyola College, Hindustan College and SRM and believes they can bag the Reliance Youth Foundation Football City trophy this year too.
For the Anna University zonal winners four consecutive years, winning last year Bertram Football Tournament title still considered as the favorite win in the recent memories for them. This year team looks well equipped to tackle their opponents to retain the title as well after months and months of practice. But as of now, the teams’ focus is to win the quarterfinal game in the RFYS Football tourney and qualify for the National finals.
We hope that the Jeppiaar team fares well and emerges as champions this year, providing scope for greater enthusiasm to arise in the sport in Tamil Nadu.
Also Read: Sohail Khatri: Dribbling his way to the top!
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