City anchor: UT extends tenure of football academy coach by six months

Students

The Chandigarh Administration has extended the services of former captain of the Indian football team and coach of the Chandigarh Football Academy, Harjinder Sing, by six months. He was to retire on Wednesday evening.

Chandigarh football enthusiasts may be breathing a sigh of relief for the brief reprieve, but it cannot be denied that a Golden era of Chandigarh football is coming to an end.

The orchestrator of one of the most successful period for Chandigarh football, it was Harjinder who took Chandigarh — a state which regularly suffered the ignominy of losing by 10 goals — and carved it into an outfit that rules the sub-junior and junior national football tournaments. In the last few years, the Chandigarh team has won every possible tournament at the junior level and is fast emerging as a soccer power in India.

"Chandigarh was like another Gujarat which could never make any impact on the national scene. But with the coming of Chandigarh Football Academy, the Chandigarh team started making waves at the national level," said Harjinder, who in the 70s was named in the Asian All Star team.

To his credit, Harjinder has produced 22 international players in just 12 years. Daniel Lalhlimpuia, A Z Lalramzauva and Mohammad Sajid Dhot, the current members of the Indian Under-16 team, are all from the Academy and many have went on to don the blue flannel of the Indian team.

Harjinder joined the Sports Department in 1998 and became the pillar and unsung hero of the academy even as various directors of sports came and went and projects failed to take off.

"If you look at the results, you can see there is some kind of magic in this Academy. It has grown to become one of the best in the country and everybody is scared to face our team in national tournaments," Harjinder said.

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