Based out of Akbarpur in the Ambedkar Nagar district in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, the Awadh Mutineers’ story is as heart-warming as it is inspirational. Founded back in 2013, the Mutineers is Akbarpur’s only club. It was founded with the aim of promoting football in these parts, and to provide sports training and education to kids belonging to underprivileged backgrounds.
Over the course of two years, the club has fully supported the education and football training of twenty kids from different families across the city. Over this time, the children have gradually improved in the sport, and have even tasted success in local matches. This year however, the management felt it was time to test their talents outside of their hometown, and what better place for the next chapter of their story than the capital city of Delhi. The boys had never travelled outside their village, but being the confident and determined bunch that they are, they couldn’t wait!
A FOOTBALL EXCURSION
The Mutineers’ long journey began in an overnight bus that took them from their hometown of Akbarpur to Lucknow. From there, they boarded a train to head to the capital. The young Mutineers enjoyed taking in the sights and sounds of the area as they travelled through the city, and even experienced their first metro ride before settling into the Gurudwara they were staying in for the night. They were excited and raring to go for the start of the Tornado Tournament the next day. Though meant only for the clubs in and around Delhi, the Tornado Tournament was happy to welcome the Mutineers as the only team from outside. However, this meant that the young club would be competing against boys from a higher age group; some stiff competition for their first trip away from home.
THE TORNADO TOURNAMENT
The Mutineers started off their run in the Tournament with a win, but they faced a setback in their second game. They performed well, but were eventually defeated by a stronger team. After a tiring and exciting first day, the young players went back to the Gurudwara to rest before coming back for Day 2.
“The main goal behind getting the Mutineers to participate in the Tornado Tournament was for them to come up against new talent and a higher level of competition so as to aid their development process”
– Ritesh Pandey, Co-Founder and CEO, Awadh Mutineers
The Mutineers started on the front foot on Day 2, but a freak injury to their goalkeeper halted their charge. Despite the initial setback, they continued to push through, and went on to win the game. They competed with boys from a higher age category, and were able to play well together to beat them and qualify for the semi-finals! Technical Director of the team, Gurpratap Singh stressed the importance of giving the boys access to quality training. The importance of the training they receive is only understood when the players can apply everything they’ve learnt in the matches they play, and according to him, the Tornado Tournament is the perfect platform to really see how far the team has come.
In the semi-finals, the Mutineers came face-to-face with the team that defeated them on Day 1. Determined to change their fate, the Mutineers started strong and took the lead early on. Unfortunately, their opponents were able to equalise, and the match finally went to penalties. The boys were completely heartbroken as they were beaten on the cusp of the final, but everyone came together to recognise the effort put in by the team and their coaches. One of their youngest players, Mutineer Ali won the ‘Best Midfielder’ award, and all-in-all, it was a great debut tournament for the boys!
“The greatest strength of the kids is their ability to adapt to the different conditions. They may not have the same facilities back in their hometown as are available in the city, but their passion and eagerness to learn has seen them come leaps and bounds in a short time.”
– Mukesh Singh, Assistant Coach, Awadh Mutineers
MORE CHALLENGES AND VICTORIES AWAIT
Citing his plans for the future, Pandey said he would like to see the tournament’s reach grow and for this level of competition to be accessible to a larger number of youngsters. Although the Awadh Mutineers packed their things and have bid farewell for now, their maiden journey was a success, and we are sure that they’ll soon be back with their brand of football magic! Until they return, here’s a look at the Mutineers’ Journey so far: