Playing against Pakistan will be exciting – Churchill Brothers defender Sanjay Balmuchu
The Tata Football Academy (TFA) has produced many great footballers in India over the last two decades and in the process changed the lives of many individuals. There are many examples of unknown youngsters coming from poor backgrounds but later becoming household names following their football education at TFA.
One such rags-to-riches story is that of 22-year-old central defender Sanjay Balmuchu, who hails from a village in Jharkhand. TFA’s extensive scouting program spotted Balmuchu and the academy’s excellent youth development system transformed him into one of the best young defenders in the country.
Following his graduation from TFA in 2012, Balmuchu earned a lucrative contract with Churchill Brothers and has spent two seasons there. During his spell at the Goan club Balmuchu has won the I-League, Federation Cup and played in the AFC Cup.
His performances have earned him a place among the Asian Games probables and it is recognition of Balmuchu’s hard work and the faith that TFA showed in him.
“It is a dream come true to be called up for the Asian Games preparations. I owe a lot to TFA for the way they developed me as a player and human being. This national call-up is a proud moment for not only my family but also the whole of Jharkhand,” Balmuchu told Sportskeeda during an exclusive chat.
If TFA gave him the requisite football education, Churchill Brothers provided the platform to showcase his abilities. Balmuchu became such a reliable player in his second season at the club that the coaching staff regularly played him in the team ahead of Australian Daniel Zeleny.
Balmuchu was instrumental in Churchill Brothers’ first-ever Federation Cup success and was also consistent in their run to the AFC Cup round of 16. He suffered with the team in the I-League but still managed to help them survive relegation.
However due to the club’s failures off the pitch they won’t be able to take part in next season’s I-League and that hurts Balmuchu, who is now considering offers from elsewhere.
“It was very disappointing to see Churchill Brothers not get the license because we worked so hard to survive in terms of points. More importantly Churchill Brothers has contributed so much to Indian football. They gave me the chance to play at the highest level and I learnt a lot in the two years there.
“I was lucky to have some great central defensive partners like Bilal Najjarine and Dharmaraj Ravanan and always enjoyed great support from the coaches and club management. It will be difficult to part with them but it looks like that will be the case. I am considering quite a few offers but for now focusing on the Asian Games camp,” he stated.
Nicknamed as the ‘iron man’ during his stint with TFA, Balmuchu is in no mood for a holiday and is currently in Goa where he is doing some personal fitness work to stay prepared ahead of the Asian Games training camp, which starts in Bangalore from July 1.
Balmuchu has his work cut out to be selected in the final 23-man squad but is excited about being a part of the camp and is hoping to play against Pakistan in the two friendlies, which are scheduled for August 17 and 20 in Bangalore.
“I can’t take anything for granted and must be at my best to get selected in the final squad. I will be training under the senior coach for the very first time and there is also the possibility of playing against Pakistan. It will be exciting playing them and hopefully I will be involved in those two games,” he concluded.