A tightly contested match between Mumbai’s Cathedral and John Connon School and Delhi’s Nalanda Public School brought the curtains down on the adidas FC Bayern Youth Cup India 2016 in Mumbai yesterday.
After 30 minutes of regulation time and extra-time yielded no goals in the final, the winner was decided by a penalty shootout. Rishi Kothari, Cathedral’s keeper, made some fabulous saves to ensure his school came out on top and will now represent India at the World Finals in Munich in May 2016. Better still, they will get a chance to watch a Bundesliga match at the legendary Allianz Arena! Other youth who stood out during the tournament were Akshunna Tyagi from Nalanda Public School who won the Player of the Delhi NCR Leg award, Krish from St. Lawrence who won the Player of the Mumbai Leg award, and Mundhiir from Treamis World School who won the Player of the Bengaluru Leg award.
Introduced to India in 2008, the FC Bayern Youth Cup is an Under-16 seven-a-side inter-school football tournament played in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. After preliminary matches in the last week of January, eight schools from the three regions qualified for the national finals which were played over the weekend, organised by Saran Sports, at the Western Railway Ground in Mumbai.
Handing out the awards on Sunday was former German World Cup winner and Bayern Munich legend, Paul Breitner. Having been involved in the Youth Cup earlier as well, Breitner spoke about the level of football he watched at the finals.
“I see great improvement in the young Indian players from 2008 to now. What I have seen today was very good level as compared to all other countries where I am training.”
Breitner, the official Bayern Munich global ambassador, also spent time over the weekend conducting a special coaching clinic with young children from Soccer Schools of Excellence sharing valuable tips and advice on how to sharpen their skills.
Talking about football in India a little more, the two-time German World Cup final goal-scorer said he believed India would be a football giant, but also mentioned that it would take at least 15 or 20 years for the game to reach global standards in the country. His advice was to invest in getting top European coaches into India, or in sending Indian coaches abroad to be trained by some of the best coaches overseas. He said:
“Indian players will become very good if they have the chance to be trained by good coaches. This is the most important thing which you have to think about and work upon.”
With respect to youth in India, he says he sees them improving. He believes that when youngsters watch big clubs like Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Real Madrid, they realise that they have to work on their technique and speed to become successful players. With the Indian Super League already in place, Breitner thinks that we should build club teams and robust grassroots systems so that kids get the best training and can go on to become stars for India in the near future.
We wish Cathedral & John Connon School all the best for their trip to Munich in May this year. And we also hope that Paul Breitner is right, and that with the right approach and training, India will become home to one of the world’s best football teams in about 20 years!