Hindustan Times. Page 25. An article regarding Bayern Munich and selections. Boing! My antennas went up. Right away I followed the instructions and messaged the given number.
And exactly a month later, I'm standing at the Mssa grounds in between a few thousand. Registration done and play time was on call.
Luckily I found a few friends of mine, the Kumar brothers and a few of my school mates. It was like God was keeping an eye on me constantly when I was placed with my friends in the same team. I was comfortable and my game showed for it. The Kumar brothers and I qualified for the next round.
God repaid my hard work with a spot in the top 26 out of 1200. We were divided into two teams. A and B. I was placed in Mumbai-A. Mumbai-A was the dream team. We were unstoppable. We headed for Pune later that month. The whole squad gelled really well with a really smooth flow.
Praful, Melroy and I were on the shortlist for the best player as part of the top 3 of the tournament. But in the last match, Melroy suffered from cramp, Praful's game deteriorated and so did mine. And in a matter of minutes, my dream of going to Germany shattered.
Nevertheless, my team did well as we won the inter-city tournament and took the trophy back home to Mumbai. Each player got a cash award of Rs. 5000, a personal trophy, a shirt, a medal, a football and a ride back home with memories that I can never forget. I worked my socks off and was repaid with a Pune FC scout approaching me with the news that I had made the cut to be part of their Under 17 team. My hard work off the field and on was finally getting recognized.
I didn't get selected to head to Bayern Munich, I didn't maintain my game throughout, but hey, look at the positives. I made my mark in Pune, I made a whole lot of friends, I improved my game and I crossed another hurdle in my journey.