Kollam: From being a child beggar to a star footballer. That is the story of R. Manikantan, 14, who at the age of seven was rescued from the Oachira temple premises by the child protection unit and is now an inmate of the children’s home at Mundakkal and a ninth standard student of SN Trust school here.
His footballing skills were noted by Real Madrid and he will attend 28 days’ professional training session with Real Madrid stars in Madrid, Spain, in July.
That is an inspiring story that began in 2010 when, Manikantan, an abandoned child, was begging during the Oachira kali festival. He was spotted by the officials of the district child protection office who took him to the children’s home. “The children’s home superintendent used to take us to a nearby college ground where I started playing football and I was passionate about it,” Manikantan told DC. “I dream of becoming a part of the national team and play like my favourite star Messi,” he said.
The children’s home had in association with a football club, ‘Black Pearl,’ organised a training camp. It was for the inmates at the Fatima Mata National College ground where he got his trainer and mentor M.P. Abhilash.
Abhilash found a promising footballer in Manikantan and took him to Chennai to attend the Under - 16 league football trials. “Manikantan has extraordinary talent in football. He has been selected for playing in the under 16 I - league after he attended the trials organised by the football plus soccer academy in Chennai,” Abhilash told DC.
Manikantan is currently attending the high performance training camp organised by the academy. It was after the trials there that he got a surprise call from Real Madrid. “I am so happy for the opportunity that came my way,” he said....