Mumbai: Pranav Kotra – the 19-year-old goalkeeper from Hindustan FC (Delhi’s esteemed football club) – threw his hat in the ring and earned his due on Monday. He became the first footballer (in his age group) from the capital to sign a contract with a foreign club – Cove FC in Adelaide, Australia.
Cove FC participates in the South Australian State League. But how did Pranav bag such an offer?
Originally from Noida, the youngster went to Adelaide to study.
“I came to Adelaide in 2015 for my Diploma in Marketing from Durban International College. But my first priority was to become a professional footballer,” says Pranav.
The youngster short-listed clubs and kept his training videos ready.
“I sent them my resume and videos for them to understand my gameplay. Soon, offers started pouring in for trials,” he adds.
Cove approached him first and he lapped it up.
“The goalkeeper coach really liked my game,” he says with a smile.
However, Pranav’s journey started with Ashoka Football Academy in Delhi under the watchful eyes of Anadi Barua – former international player-turned coach.
The lad also tested his luck with Mohun Bagan Sail Academy (Durgapur) and PIFA Sports FC (Mumbai) before joining Hindustan FC which fought tooth and nail till the final round of I-League U-19.
“After I-League, my father urged me to try for a foreign club. I chose Australia, it is one of the best places to start,” he asserts.
The Indian national football team’s dismal show in the international arena doesn’t bother the custodian.
“I think football is more of a club sport than country. But like everyone, I wish to play for India U-23 and then, senior team. At the same time, I want to play for foreign clubs too,” says Pranav, who also praised the Australian league and the professional training.
“Here, a league continues for almost six to seven months and the coaches are good at identifying talent. The league starts in March. Now, I am just doing gym work as I am coming out of an injury. The football is physical here,” adds Pranav, who is living 10 minutes from Adelaide Oval – the cricket ground. But the gentleman’s sport and cricketers do not interest him.
“I am more keen to meet Mark Schwarzer – the Australian goalkeeper who is now with Leicester City in the English Premier League,” he says.
The name ‘Pranav’ became magical in the world of Indian sports at the beginning of the year.
Pranav Dhanawade, a 15-year-old cricketer from Mumbai, smashed 1,009 in just 327 balls in a school cricket match. The Delhi boy shares his name with the cricket prodigy.
“I know about the other Pranav. I think we both have a long way to go in our respective careers,” says Pranav who idolises Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech.
“When I saw Cech saving Arjen Robben’s penalty in the Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich in 2012, I knew I was correct that I chose goalkeeping. It came naturally to me.”