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Shekhar Bangera to set up a football academy in Mumbai

 Shekhar BangeraShekhar Bangera, the former goalkeeper of Orkay Mills, belongs to the distinguished breed of dedicated sportsmen, who believe that knowledge gained through experience at the premier level of the game is a treasured possession which should be utilised to guide the younger generation. India sank into the relegation zone as a consequence of its pathetic show in the Sahara Cup this year. To counter the current crises in Indian football, Bangera, the well-known footballer turned coach, aims to unearth talented youngsters from the grassroots and mould them into champions which will help us to retrieve our past glory.

A brisk recapitulation of Bangera's achievements will revive the memories of his endearingly heroic performances as a goalkeeper for Orkay Mills, which earned him the sobriquet, ‘The Tiger’. With his towering frame of 6 feet 3 inches, Bangera nullified the threatening raids of opposition strikers with acrobatic dives in the net. Who can forget his virtuoso performance which spurred Orkay Mills to a convincing 4-0 victory over Calcutta giants Mohun Bagan in the semifinal of the Rovers Cup at Cooperage in 1978? Bangera is a veteran of five National championships for Maharashtra. He was the key member of the Orkay side that won the Stanford Cup for three consecutive years (1973-75) and he was also adjudged the Player of the Tournament and the Best Goalkeeper in 1974.

Bangera learnt the finer points of goalkeeping under the tutelage of renowned coaches like Deju Shetty, S Salian, Bhupinder Singh, and Bob Bootlant. He played for New India Assurance before representing Orkay Silk Mills from 1970 to 1987. Bangera has not only proved himself as a skilled goalkeeper but also as a competent and result-oriented football coach. “I wish to pass on my knowledge of the game, which I had gained through my experience at the top level, to the youngsters,” said Bangera who has successfully trained the football teams of St. Anthony High School, the Saki Village Boys and St. Xaviers Sports Club (Vile Parle). Under his able guidance, St. Xavier's won the MSSA-Colgate Inter-School Football Tournament in the under-14 category last year.

Coaching youngstersBangera lamented the lack of organised practice for football in theschools of Mumbai... “Only a handful of schools like Don Bosco, D'Assissi, Dominic Savio and St. Stanislaus conduct regular training for their teams during the entire year”.

To tap young talent, Bangera has chalked up an ambitious plan to start a full-fledged football academy in Mumbai with the help of Karnataka Sporting Association. It will be a nonresidential academy which will provide free training to 40 talented boys for a period of 2 years. The total cost of the project is Rs 15 lakhs which will cover expenses for the playground, professional coaches, kits and daily food for the boys. “If money is pumped into the academy, we can produce at least 15 to 20 footballers of high caliber every year,” said Bangera who exuded confidence in the success of his novel project.

By: Wasim Siddiqui
Photographer: Vinayak Prabhu


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