Whether you love him or hate him, one has to admit that Ranjit Bajaj's knack for spotting talent is unparalleled. The Minerva Academy has won the AIFF U-16 Youth League thrice, apart from winning the U-13 and U-18 Leagues each once under his ownership.
Scouting a good set of players is of paramount importance to winning youth leagues in the country. While a lot of academies and clubs restrict themselves to the big cities, Ranjit Bajaj doesn't stop there as he believes real talent lies in the remote parts of the country.
A lot of players can't travel to the big cities at a young age as their parents have to miss a day's work and manage transport. The trial and lodging fees further aggravate their problem.
Speaking to Indranil Basu at SKLive, Ranjit Bajaj said:
"We make sure there are no trial fees and cover as many areas as possible. For example, now we are conducting trials in West Bengal. I know the transport is closed and people from North 24 Parganas, Howrah, or Hooghly won't be able to attend trials in Kolkata. I know the talent is there. So, we make sure Kolkata trials means five different venues. So, all the districts are covered and everyone gets a chance."
Ranjit Bajaj on discovering Bikash Yumnam
India U-19 defender Bikash Yumnam recently found his name in the Guardian's Next Generation 2020 list. The Manipuri lad doesn't hail from the capital city but from a remote village of Lilong Chajin. Ranjit Bajaj made sure his region was covered so that he could get an opportunity to showcase his talent.
"When I go to Manipur, I make sure I go to all districts. Even if it's 100 km, it is 12-13 hours by road. Bikash Yumnam hails from a village in the outskirts, not from Imphal. Even Hormipam, the other center-back in Indian Arrows. He, too, came from a small village. Unless you go to these remote villages, you won't find the real talent," Ranjit Bajaj signed off.Published 11 Oct 2020, 17:44 IST