Sixteen-year-old right-winger Amirul Mondal has been juggling school, odd jobs and domestic chores for seven-odd years just to pursue his one and only passion — football.
Fifteen-year-old centre-forward Sayan Dutta has made football his world, shutting out all teenaged temptations so that his parents’ struggle to make his dream come true does not go waste.
Amirul and Sayan’s dedication and commitment to sport was saluted at The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence at the Science City auditorium on Saturday where Amirul received the Dr. Jayantanuja Bandopadhyaya Memorial Scholarship and Sayan the Ronald Robertson Memorial Scholarship.
Sayan’s tryst with football started at the age of three when he started accompanying brother Ayan to the football ground. Soon, his love for the ball and his quicksilver control caught the eye of coach Ashok Chandra. So he asked Sayan to enrol in the Jadavpur Ex Footballers’ Association and chipped him a dream — that of playing for Team India.
“He was good in all sports — cricket, table tennis, athletics — but it was football that became his passion,” said father Panu Datta, who runs a small eatery in Jadavpur, while his mother Papiya proudly showed off her son’s certificates in their modest house in Narkelbagan, Jadavpur.
The proud parents along with brother Ayan took the Science City stage on Saturday to receive the scholarship as Sayan was busy making his family proud at a special coaching camp in faraway Dubai.
The Class X student of Bijoygarh Vidyapith has already donned the Under-17 Bengal jersey. But the biggest high for this Cristiano Ronaldo fan so far? Being picked among 70 young footballers across the country for the AIFF Under-17 selection camp in Goa.
After a month-and-a-half’s intense training, the striker was selected for a special camp for 26 in Dubai. From there, a group further pruned will carry on to Iran.
“He was supposed to sit for his Madhyamik this year but then the call for the Goa camp came and luckily his headmaster was very supportive and encouraged him not to let the opportunity go,” said Sayan’s father.
Amirul is equally supportive of Sayan, with whom he practises every day. “We went to the national camp in Goa last year and are very good friends. He calls me from Dubai,” said Amirul, who idolises Lionel Messi for his style, Cristiano Ronaldo for his speed and Didier Drogba for his attitude on the field.
The Class IX student of Dhabdhabi High School started playing football barefoot at the local club in Baruipur before one of his neighbours encouraged him to enrol in a club for professional training. The right-winger has already represented Bengal in some tournaments like the Under-16 Mir Eqbal Hossain Trophy.
Amirul has it tough. Father Ansari Mondal, an employee of a private company, finds it difficult to run a family of six on his meagre income, so Amirul has to do odd jobs to supplement his family’s income. But he isn’t ready to give up on his Messi-driven dream. “I will be taking up a job with the municipal corporation where I will be working from 2pm to 10pm. Thankfully my school is understanding and will not create problems if I have to miss classes for football practice,” said Amirul.
So, rain or shine, Amirul is always going through the paces at the Bijoygarh club every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. His sole goal: wearing the Team India jersey.
On Saturday, as he went up to the Science City stage to receive his scholarship, his mother Anwara Bibi was all smiles. “I am so proud of him. I cannot explain how it feels to see him up on stage,” she said.
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