Scoring goals on uneven grounds all these years, Mangal Majhi will now display his skills on foreign soil.
The 16-year-old striker from a small hamlet in East Singhbhum has found a place in the Simla Youngs, an elite Delhi-based club, which is taking part in the Welsh International Super Cup to be held at Wales in the United Kingdom later this month. Majhi is part of the Under-18 squad of the Delhi club.
The youngster, who is known for his quick reflexes and accurate shooting skills, is very popular in his village Saludih, around 13km from the Jamshedpur city.
Visit his humble house, and you will be assured of his passion for the game. His room is adorned with posters of his favourite players — Diego Maradona and Cristiano Ronaldo. "I was attracted towards football from a very young age. But I had nowhere to practice the game but for the rough and uneven grounds near my village. Things began to change once I started playing for a Jamshedpur-based club in local tournaments," Majhi said.
But he never dreamt of going abroad. "Though I had performed well in the trials but I was not sure about my selection. I feel happy about the whole development," he said over the phone from Ranchi. He's in the capital with his elder brother Gopal to complete passport formalities.
Majhi, the youngest among his three brothers, stays with his mother and kin. His father passed away last October. Majhi's mother, Domai, was thrilled. "I'm very glad that somebody from our clan is going abroad. May the almighty help my son shine," she said. Fellow villagers were ecstatic, too, after hearing that one among them will shortly be heading abroad. "A big opportunity has come his way. We are hopeful that he'll try his best," said Kerai Soren, his neighbour.
Barring periodical visits to Jamshedpur to play local tournaments, the tribal lad who studies in Class IX, seldom leaves his village. Gopal, his elder brother, was instrumental in taking him to Delhi to attend selection trials conducted by the Simla Youngs in May this year. "He was not willing to board the train. I had to convince him a lot. He is very shy but determined," Gopal said.
They will be leaving for Delhi this week. "Simla Youngs is heading for the UK on July 24. A practice session is scheduled in Delhi before the departure," said Gopal, also a footballer.
The Delhi-based club is sending four teams — Under-10, 13, 15 and 18 — for the tournament. Some of the players will also be trained at English clubs
© The Telegraph / July 14, 2009