Second Division League: Groundsman's son Manvir Singh wants to take Ozone FC Bengaluru to greater heights
It was a story of so close, yet so far for Ozone FC Bengaluru and their striker Manvir Singh last year.
The club made it to the final round of the Second Division League and missed out on promotion to the I-League.
Manvir, with 14 goals, was the top-scorer for Ozone in the U-18 Youth League but Ozone could not progress beyond the playoffs for the final round.
The script so far has panned out Ozone's way. They top Group B in the Second Division League and have ensured their berth in the 4-team final round.
Manvir has moved on from his days at the U-18 team and is reproducing his magic for the senior side, playing with the likes of William Opoku, I-League winner with Minerva Punjab, and seasoned campaigner CS Sabeeth.
The final round spot is theirs now but Manvir, with 3 goals this season, has set his sights on promotion to the I-League.
"As this is my first season as a senior team player, I want to keep scoring goals and help Ozone seal promotion to the I-League," the 17-year-old Manvir said before Ozone's final group game against South United.
"We are well glued and a stronger team this time around. We will do our best to secure the promotion to I-League.
"We are working hard and performing well as of now, so we'll keep ourselves down to earth and keep giving out similar performances."
What helps Manvir stay grounded is his own back story. The son of a groundsman from Nawanshahr in Punjab, Manvir has had to fight for every ounce of space on the pitch.
"The roots are never forgotten, I still and will always remember those days when my father used to work on the grounds," Manvir said.
"I had a burning desire in me to make it to the professional stage one day and I believed in it strongly. I will always keep working hard and achieve more so that I can reach greater heights and make my father proud."
The dream of football took Manvir to the Chandigarh Football Academy. After spending a few years there, Manvir was spotted by Ozone, who immediately saw his talent and roped him in.
"I had many ups and downs at CFA. Our dutiful coach Sandeep Singh helped us a lot on and off the pitch. I'm glad to have worked under him and he has brought the best out of me at the CFA. He is one of the reasons for who I'm today," Manvir said.
While the 2017-18 season saw Manvir achieve personal glory in the U-18 Youth League, this season has all been about the team. Working under David Booth at Ozone, Manvir feels he's got what it takes to be a consistent performer in the senior side.
"It was an extraordinary feeling for me to be on the top of the Goal Scorers list but personal glory comes second to the team and we were unhappy to not put our hands on the trophy," Manvir added.
"For now, I just want to keep working hard every day and give my 100% on the field.
"Last season was good where I was able to chip in as the top scorer and I would love to continue the same at the senior level too.
"My dream has always been to wear the Indian jersey and represent it at the international stage."