Report from India

The Times of India
Courtesy: The Times Of India

Pune engineering student Akshay recalls Premier Futsal fanfare

Jul 3, 2017,

PUNE: It has been almost a year since we witnessed the inaugural edition of Premier Futsal which saw the likes of Ronaldinho, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes grace Indian arenas for the first time. Amongst these starstudded names, there was also a local boy by the name of Akshay Nair.

Akshay , 20, was selected to play for the Kolkata 5s who were led by former Argentina striker Hernan Crespo and made it to the semifinals where they lost to eventual winners Mumbai 5s.But how did it all begin for the 4th year Engineering student at DY Patil College, Pimpri? "Like everyone else, I started playing football during my school days but I also used to play the smaller version with my society friends," he said.

"I learned of the futsal national trials through the folks at Greenbox (chain of mini-football turfs) and after getting selected we got a platform to showcase our talent where the matches being shown on DD Sports."

Having turned out for Karnataka in the national trials, Akshay impressed the selectors and made it to the Indian futsal team but never got the chance to don the national colours as those in charge failed to organise any matches. But an even bigger challenge came Akshay's way and he grabbed it with both hands, or shall we say, both feet!

Premier Futsal conducted trials in June last year and Akshay came through, first in Mumbai and then in Chennai, as one of only 36 players from all India, and only one from Pune, to be part of the inaugural edition. "At first I could not believe this was actually happening. It felt unreal when we heard that we were going to be playing alongside or against the likes of Ronaldinho," he said.
Being a part of Crespo's team must have been a big burden for such young shoulders but Akshay was impressed by the way the former Chelsea and AC Milan striker's approach to dealing with such pressure.

The 20-year-old, who also plays for Thundercatz FC in the PDFA Super Division, has quietly made a name for himself in the nascent world of Indian futsal and he believes the sport can grow if nurtured in the right environment.

"Futsal has the potential to become a big sport in India. It is a short and fast game which gets over in an hour. I think we should promote futsal more because we have a lot of talented players here in India who could do well," he said.

For now, Akshay is concentrating on completing his education but hopes to make a career in futsal.

"I would love to take up futsal professionally but obviously it is not a very feasible option at the moment. I will keep trying though and continue playing wherever possible till then," he said.

Posted by Luca Ranocchiari --> luca.ranocchiari@futsalplanet.com


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