Arsh Singh Saini, 21, Soc­cer player, Chandigarh

India Today - - UPFRONT -

SUC­CESS STORY Cur­rently a goal­keeper for the pro­fes­sional league team Min­erva Pun­jab in the Hero I-League, Saini started his ca­reer by bag­ging a spot in the pres­ti­gious Elite Academy of the All In­dia Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion at the age of 16.

HIS PLAY­ING FIELD Saini's love for the game stems not too far from home. His fa­ther was a for­mer goal­keeper for Ja­gatjit Cot­ton & Tex­tile Foot­ball Club (JCT FC) team for 12 years. “He is my first coach. Dur­ing his time at JCT, the squad won the Fed­er­a­tion Cup and the Du­rand Cup. He is also re­spon­si­ble for in­spir­ing me to be­come a goal­keeper,” Saini says.

SPORTS AS A CA­REER Not ev­ery­body man­ages to come from a fam­ily of sportsper­sons, and while Saini al­ways had fam­ily sup­port, he be­lieves that sports is now widely gain­ing ac­cep­tance across the coun­try. “Peo­ple are cer­tainly be­com­ing more open to­wards the idea of be­ing a sportsper­son or hav­ing one in the fam­ily,” says Saini.

ROAD­BLOCKS The young player has been bat­tling in­juries and ill­nesses for a while now. “When was time to rep­re­sent my coun­try, like in the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion (AFC) Cup in 2015, I was de­tected with jaun­dice and I stopped play­ing for five months. I in­jured my an­kle in a train­ing match last sea­son, and could play only three matches." But a real sportsper­son will not let all this hold him back and he says, "I want to make a name for my­self in the in­ter­na­tional cir­cuit. I hope my ded­i­ca­tion pays off.” “The re­cent bout of ill­health won't bog me down. I want to make a name for my­self in the in­ter­na­tional cir­cuit.” Arsh Singh Saini, Soc­cer player

Pho­to­graph by SAN­DEEP SAHDEV

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