Sports has a way of making dreams come true. 11 year old Chandan Nayak is not yet living the dream, but he could have unlocked the key to his future. Courtesy Bayern Munich.
Chandan lives in Bhubaneswar’s Sabar Sahi slum. His mother, Duhita Nayak, was deserted by her husband long ago. The boy’s football talent was captured during a free training programme conducted for slum children.
“I found Chandan while imparting free football training to slum boys of Bhubaneswar.” Says the coach, Jaydev Mohapatra. “Chandan was staying at Sabar Sahi slum close to Kalinga Stadium. I found magic in the boy and picked him up.”
Chandan lives in a 10*12 feet room with his mother. His family does not even possess a television set. But, according to his mother, the 11 year old is a big fan of Argentine superstar, Lionel Messi.
Coach, Mohapatra, said that the 11-year-old’s family was extremely underprivileged and struggled to make ends meet. At the same time, the boy’s resilience against mounting difficulties should be seen as a sign of bravery, he added.
The move was almost undone due to a lack of documentation. Chandan, unfortunately, did not have a recognized birth certificate. This created complications for his visa. Ultimately, the authorities stepped in.
Bhubaneshwar mayor, AN Jena, helped get Chandan a birth certificate. Thereafter, the visa was issued. His coach, Mohapatra, also thanked Union Ministers Sushma Swaraj and Dharmendra Pradhan for their efforts.
The initial training offer is of two months. The qualification criteria was limited to the age group of 14-16. Therefore, initially Chandan wasn’t allowed to participate in the trials held at Pune.
Says his coach, “The selection criteria said that the age should be between 14 to 16 and being an 11-year-old kid he was not allowed, but we asked them to give him a chance, [and] he surprised everyone.”
Chandan would be among 120 children across the world, who would receive training from Bayern Munich. For a nation starved of football talent, Chandan is a breath of fresh air. Let us see if he can maximize his potential and bring laurels to the country.