World at his feet

16-year-old Chandigarh defender Akshay Shekhar Sharma is among five Indian players selected to train in Germany

The news is finally out. Neither any player from Chandigarh Football Academy nor St Stephen's Football Academy-the two soccer powerhouses in the City- but a rather unknown name has been thrown into the ever-expanding sea of names of players joining the elite group of those making a name outside. So, this time Akshay Shekhar Sharma, the strapping lad from Chandigarh, will be among those lucky five players to get a chance to train at the Allianz Arena, home to top Bundesliga team, Bayern Munchen.

Lucky fellow, others would say, but at the moment Akshay is at the pedestal where he has always dreamed to be. Luck or fruit of hard labour, anything that others would like to name it, he doesn't care. Yes, the players from CFA selected for the Chandigarh team opted out to compete in the Pre-Subroto Mukherjee Under-17 football tournament, but credit should not be taken away from the player whose talent was on full display and was deservedly adjudged the man of the tournament.

Akshay was part of the Chandigarh team, named the Chandigarh Warriors, that won the national finale of Bajaj Allianz Junior Football Camp tournament at Pune by beating Kerala 1-0, to be selected among the five players for training in Germany.

"Right now, all I care is that I am reaching closer to achieving my dreams. It is a proud feeling to see myself at this position today. Now, I can afford to dream big," chuckled the player.

Like the Chandigarh team that lost its first two league matches, the hopes of the rising player was also fading away until a new wave of confidence helped him revive his fortunes. It was not a coincidence that the Chandigarh team, dubbed the weakest team of the tournament because of the absence of CFA players, turned the tides and won the title beating the odds. "Since most of the players in the team were playing together for the first team, we lacked coordination in the first two matches. That is the reason why we lost to Bangalore and Hyderabad, who were among the weakest teams in the tournament. But we settled down gradually and good understanding between the players helped us win the rest of the remaining matches. Had we lost any other match, we would have been out of the tournament. We never thought we would win the finale. It was like a roller-coaster ride," shared the 16-year-old.

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