From rejection to record-breaking, the story of Rahul Bheke, the most featured Indian player in ISL 2
Bheke talks about his beginnings as a football player
Growing up as a kid in Mumbai, in the vicinity of the D.Y. Patil Stadium, the home ground of Rahul’s hometown team, Mumbai City FC, Rahul recalled his frequent tiffs between the books and the beautiful game which often proved to be an obstacle for the young kid who was trying to build his dreams.
But Bheke evoked how his parents and even his teachers went out of their way to pave the way for a young Rahul as he began his journey as a footballer. “Managing both football & studies has been a difficult job, there have been times during my T.Y B.com exams when I had to miss a few games to be able to write my exams. But also to tell you my coaches & teachers have been very supportive towards helping me balance both my studies & football.”
Often hesitant to allow their kids to take up sport as a career, insecure parents have pushed great sporting talents into a heap of books, seldom spelling the end of their sporting dreams. But Rahul spoke with a great pride about his parents, who never held him back from taking up football as a career as he stressed on their support to being a major push in his career.
“My parents have been the pillar of support & strength to what I am today backing me to everything from the day I made up my mind to play the sport. I owe all that I am today to my parents,” emphasised Bheke.
Growth as a footballer
While selection for Mahindra United’s U-19 team was the point which prompted him to take up the sport professionally, Rahul unfolded how he missed out on some of the most precious moments in his personal life for his football to make his journey from a local level player to being the Indian with the most number of ISL minutes under his belt in his debut season in the league.
“Playing for the school during my 5th & 6th standard is where I came into playing football. Then moving on to my college team & getting selected with the Mahindra U-19 team was the crucial turning point towards my football career.
“From being a local player to going to the next level, there has been a lot of sacrifices & hard work that has gone in to make me what I am today. From missing important family functions to getting up early to train individually have been a few on the list,” recalled Rahul Bheke as he reflected on his own success story.
Though his performances haven’t been enough to guide the Kerala Blasters to a semi-final place, Rahul Bheke has provided many budding footballers a roadmap to success, which for Rahul Bheke is built on sheer belief.
“It feels great to be playing the ISL & inspiring other youngsters to take up the game in a serious manner, work hard & be patient as hard work never goes unnoticed or in vain. So push yourself till you get there & always believe in yourself,” Bheke called out for prospective Indian footballers as he concluded unveiling the best phase of his footballing career and perhaps his life.