Football -Shootball Chak De in New York
By Smita Prakash
New York, July 11 (ANI): For the first time ever, an Indian school soccer team is taking part in a youth soccer tournament in the US.
Seventeen players, all under the age of 14 from New Delhi's elite Sanskriti School, were in New York State this week to take part in the Golden Goal Tournament Park.
This year's tournament has been bifurcated into a "Boys Weeks" and a 'Girls Weeks" The boys aged under 13, 14 and 15 are playing from July 5 to 11, while boys under age of 11 and 12 will play from July 12 to 18. After an interval of eight days, boys under the age of 13 and 14 will play matches from July 26 to August 1., while boys under the age of 12 and 14 will play between August 2 and 8. Boys under the age of 10, 11, 12 and 13 will play matches from August 16 to 22.
The matches for girls in similar age groups are being played from June 28 to August 29.
The boys team was the youngest and most inexperienced of the 12 international teams at the tourney. They did not have any sponsors and lacked in fitness as compared to the burly Canadians and the 'play to win' American teams.
But where they scored heavily was in winning the hearts of the organizers and international coaches who spent the whole week in this extremely beautiful valley nestled in the Adirndack Mountains in upstate New York. Darby Diedrich, Tournament Director, said that they had never met a team that was so spirited despite the drawbacks they faced in terms of size and fitness levels.
"They are so amazingly polite...we did not have one incident of bad behaviour with this team. They are very keen to learn. The fact that the weather, the food and culture is so different from their own and they have hardly had any time to recover from their jet lag, their performance at the tournament has been admirable," he said.
Team manager Sachin Khurana of Turf Sports Management, New Delhi could be seen working with the young Indians, egging them on to give off their best. He took this team to England last year where it was the only school team to beat England in England.
Sachin said that he didn't expect the team to win any matches but rather gain from the experience of playing against some excellent soccer clubs in this Olympic style athletic village. There are four football fields, all astro-turfed and flood lit.
"Even the Indian national football team does not have these facilities back home," he said.
This school soccer team stayed for a week with their coach Keshav in a clubhouse. Here is the "Gurukul paramapara" at its best. The young boys could be seen fetching an ice cream for their coach while he was giving a foot rub to an injured kid. There were four medical teams rushing around in golf carts providing aid when needed.The Indian kids were in tears when they lost match after match, but once they attended the team building and skill competitions they realized that they had more to learn at this soccer academy than merely competing against other teams.
Gary Pritchard, a motivational speaker who is hired by multinational companies in the US for team building lectures, spoke to the participating teams. When he threw questions at the Indian boys, he was surprised to note that there was no shyness. The kids were enthusiastic and did not hesitate in expressing their opinions and queries.Sachin Khurana hopes to bring cricket teams here to replicate the experience of the soccer team. They probably will fare better in terms of scores. But the boys who came here for one week of soccer are physically exhausted. One can see, however, that they are thrilled to have experienced a different kind of game.
Imkan, Anish, Sanat, Chaubey, Suyash, Kshitij huddling together at the beginning of each match extolling each other "we have to win this one" reminded one of the Bollywood flick Chak De India. This was a similar bunch of kids, who were hoping to win just because they wanted to.
The inspiration for Golden Goal was conceived several years ago after David Dinallo, a lifelong summer resident of Cooperstown, New York combined forces with two partners and invited youth baseball teams to an unprecedented week long tournament in a specially designed facility called Cooperstown Dreams Park.
Here, teams experienced the sport like never before. Word of the unique baseball experience spread rapidly in the youth baseball world and soon a week at Cooperstown Dreams Park was the prized destination of 12-year old baseball teams from all 50 states and Canada.
In 2003, David decided the time was right to pursue this even grander plan for youth soccer and lacrosse that would improve upon the highly successful baseball model.
The desire was to build a facility that offered every team, regardless of skill level, the opportunity to experience an Olympic style event. What needed to be created was a tournament Park unlike anything else in the world that would not only attract teams from all over the United States, but other countries as well. The first step was to find a geographic region where the whole family could combine participation in a soccer tournament with a summer vacation. The second important aspect was to acquire enough land to implement the full scope of the plan.
After an intense two year search, 200 acres of farmland was discovered in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains minutes from the bustling summer resort town of Lake George and the town voted "best main street in America" Saratoga Springs. Golden Goal Tournament Park was born as the future destination for youth soccer and lacrosse teams from around the world.
As plans developed and the project was engineered, leaders of the soccer and lacrosse world began to realize the void in programming that Golden Goal would fill.
At Golden Goal the focus is on providing a competitive environment (the Olympic-style experience) for the core club travel player and not just the elite player sought in many tournaments. The experience provided, equally benefits teams of all skill levels as the emphasis is on "trying your best" and not necessarily "being the best". The focus on middle school aged participants for the core summer weeklong programs is intentional as they are in the formative years of their development and a great impact can be made to improve their future lifelong choices.
Golden Goal opened its gates on June 28, 2007 and with the final completion of the first phase the park will accommodate up to 80 teams per week on just 70 acres of the 200-acre site. Engineers and architects are developing plans for the two Halls of Fame as well as the balance of the project. In the not to distant future, a separate soccer and lacrosse park will operate simultaneously with 20 fields under the lights and 100 clubhouses to welcome 200 teams per week for an exciting and unmatched family sports experience. (ANI)
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