Exclusive: Interview with the 10 Indian youngsters picked to go to Germany for the FC Bayern Youth Cup 2014

Mani Vannan, Shelton Paul and Prashanth R with their coach Saksham

Mani Vannan, Shelton Paul and Prashanth R with their coach Saksham

10 U-16 youngsters will be travelling to Germany to represent India in the final of the FC Bayern Youth Cup 2014.

The two-phased tournament saw some gripping performances with the final transformed into a riveting match with the Pune FC lifting the cup after a penalty shootout against Bangalore FC.

The ultimate 10 from India for the FC Bayern Youth Cup in May 2014 include:

Aniket Jadhav, Krishanu Santra, Manoranjan Singh, Omkar More, Sebastian Thangmuhangsang – Pune FC

Mani Vannan, Pradip R, Prashant R, Shelton Paul – Bengaluru FC

Shibam Sarkar – Hindustan FC

Sportskeeda got in touch with the aforementioned boys and asked them a few questions about their journey until now and what they’re expecting in the future.

SK: How does it feel?

Pradip: It feels great. We didn’t expect to come this far, but we really have.

Aniket: For us boys from Pune, after having won the FC Bayern Youth Cup which was held in India, going to Germany is like a dream coming true.

SK: Which were the best teams you played against in the tournament?

Shelton: Definitely, Pune FC. (laughs) They were bigger, stronger and really good at taking penalties.

Sebastian: I’d say Bangalore, and not just because we played them in the final. They were really good throughout the tournament.

SK: How were you able to manage your studies along with training?

(All of them laugh)

Pradip: We barely studied!

Shibam: Yes. We rarely went to school. We were at training most of the time.

Aniket: Not that we like bunking classes, but this was much more important. It’s what we love.

SK: I see most of you wearing fancy football boots…

Mani: Yes! Those were given to us by Adidas.

SK: Tell us how Adidas has helped you’ll throughout the tournament

Mani: Well, they gave us boots. And training kits. And Bayern Munich jerseys.

Football boots provided by Adidas

Football boots provided by Adidas

Prashant: They also took care of our meals, saw that we got proper nourishment and attended all the training sessions without fail.

SK: How have your parent clubs supported you during the tournament?

Aniket: They were really helpful. Went that extra mile to train us in every possible way for what lay ahead.

Shelton: We have this training program at Bengaluru FC, and our U-16 coach, Saksham, really helped us a lot. Right from training schedules to managing our school workload to eating right.

Shibam: I, sometimes, faced a communication problem with my team-mates during training. Quite a few of them didn’t know Bengali and I wasn’t that fluent in Hindi. So my coach, Sandeep, would help me understand what was going on and I didn’t feel left out even one bit.

SK: Any expectations from this Germany trip?

Pradip: Not really. I think all of us are just looking to go there and have a good time.

Omkar: I just want to see how they play football abroad, and pick up some tactics from them!

Mani: There’s a lot we can learn – about the game, the kind of pitches they play on, team strategies, and maybe we can learn some German too.

SK: Apart from the teams you play for, which other team do you support? In the I-League or internationally.

Aniket: I like how Bengaluru FC play. This was their first season in the I-League, and they won the trophy. It really says a lot about the team.

Shelton: Since the Bayern Youth Cup started, I’ve begun following FC Bayern Munich and I think I like their style of playing.

Shibam: The Indian National football team is my second favourite. I’m growing up watching them play, and I really hope to play for them one day.

SK: How excited are you that India will be hosting the U-17 World Cup?

Prashant: Very. We’ll get to see kids like us from different countries coming here and playing. They’ll definitely be putting on their best game.

Krishanu: This is a great opportunity for India. We are finally promoting football and giving it importance.

SK: Lastly, who is your favorite football player?

Shelton: Johnny Menyongar

Shibam: Subrata Pal

Aniket: Sean Rooney. He’s so awesome!

The boys are visibly overjoyed at the prospect of being selected to go to Germany. Whether they win or not, is secondary. The most important thing for them is to have fun and learn about the game.

This is what Bayern Munich and German legend, Paul Breitner had to say about the FC Bayern Youth Cup in India:


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