INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL PROMOTION: Back with Bayern memories – Siliguri players share dressing room experience

FOOTBALL PROMOTION: Back with Bayern memories – Siliguri players share dressing room experience – inspirational tales, hills secluded purposely or maybe next time for schools in the hills with greater talent – any challenges ?!!

'(From left) Abhishek Chhetri, Deepu Burman, Amit Thakuri, Sanjib Kerketta, Nishant Toppo and Litan Shil. They returned to Siliguri on Sunday after their week-long trip to Germany - great experiences and great expectations ?!! (Kundan Yolmo)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, Aug. 29: They flew to Germany, shared the dressing room of FC Bayern and posed with World Cuppers who did not offer any soccer tips.

But that did not dampen the spirit of the Siliguri Six. “So what (if they did not offer us tips)? Otherwise, it was a wonderful experience, as their grounds and stadium were picturesque and the training was systematic marked by sheer punctuality,” said Amit Thakuri, one of the six Under-17 footballers from Sliguri, after returning from a week-long dream tour.

The six players were selected for the overseas tour by FC Bayern when the German club visited the town for an exhibition match in January 2009. While the state government had paid the passage money, the German team had arranged for their food and accommodation during the trip.

Apart from posing with World Cuppers like Thomas Mueller and Frank Riberi, there was not much interaction. But the Siliguri players practised with the Under-17 team of the German club and picked up some vital tips.

“We reached Munich on August 19 and started our training at the FC Bayern ground the next day. The same evening, we visited the BMW headquarters in Munich,” Thakuri said.

On August 21, the players went to see the inaugural match of the Bundesliga (Germany’s premier football league) between FC Bayern and Wolfsburg which the former won 2-1.

After the match, the six players met their football heroes, Mueller, Schweinsteiger, Riberi, Mark Van Bommel and Miroslav Klose.

“We were taken to their dressing room and they obliged us with their autographs on the team jersey. Although we did not get the chance to interact with them, we got an opportunity to get photographed with the players,” said Abhishek Chhetri, another player.

“It was an experience, which we had only dreamt about. Watching a bunch of World Cup footballers from a handshake distance and visiting their dressing room and the ground are almost a lifetime achievement for us,” he added.

On August 22 and 23, the Siliguri players went for a local tour which included the famous Europa Park.

The budding players from Siliguri also enjoyed their training session with their foreign counterparts that continued from August 24 to 27 at Rust. They were surprised by the German club’s punctuality at the training programme.

“The second phase of our training started in Rust, which is a three-hour drive from Munich. We stayed with the Under-17 players of the Bayern team in Rust. During the four-day training, we got Stephan and Andreas as our trainers. The training was in two shifts. The first session started at 9am and continued till 11.30am, while the second schedule was from 1.30pm to 4pm,” said Sanjib Kerketta who hails from a tea estate.

Nishant Toppo, also from a tea garden, recounted how he was punished for being late. “I had to do six push-ups on the second day of our practice as I was late. But it was not a serious punishment, as they know that we were from abroad.”

The players said they were ready to utilise the techniques they learnt from the foreign team. “Whatever we have been doing here, the same thing we did there also but in a different way. We learnt how to tackle the ball, how to increase the power in our shots, dribbling and the movement. If we are exposed to such an organised training schedule throughout the year, we could play much better,” Dipu Burman said.

Litan Shil said if he got another opportunity like this in future, he would not miss it.

The six footballers will be felicitated here on September 3 by the Siliguri Mahakuma Krira Parishad.

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