Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mayur

(L-R): Dasarth, Neil, Mayur
Mayur is the Blue Stars' captain, and one of the team's best players. He has been on the team for over two years, anchoring the group of boys that come from Jamalpur. He has always had above average athletic ability, but over time he has also grown as a leader. I remember when we first gave him the title "captain", he thought it gave him a mandate to order people around and make fun of them, like he was the leader of a gang. I told him what it actually is about is taking care and getting the best out of every last player on your team, both on and off the field. It's about putting your own personal accolades and goals aside in deference to the team and your teammates. Since then he has really taken that up. He is the most vocal players on the field, and is one of the few players that has completely flipped the script from negative complaints to positive encouragement ("well done!", "good defense!") during play.

For the past couple years, Mayur has had a dream to play at Kahaani, the largest youth soccer club in Ahmedabad. Recently, he came to the coaches saying he had gotten the support of his parents to join Kahaani. They had committed to paying the registration to whatever extent they could. They wanted Mayur to excel at the sport he loved. We emphasized that the most important aspect was his commitment; he would be representing our entire program, so he should be ready to stick to it, including getting to every practice regularly and playing in every game. Mayur was determined. I spoke with Manishaben who runs Kahaani, she invited Mayur to their practice the following week for a try-out. The coaches would work with him and determine what team he would be best suited to play with. Mayur literally couldn't wait, it was something he had dreamed about for years.

I met Mayur at the practice from the office at 6pm. He had come from Jamalpur by bike with Dasrath, one of our big brother players. Mayur had asked Dasrath to accompany him that day since he wasn't 100% sure of the way. Although the ride would take an hour, Dasarth put his school reading aside and they left at 3pm because Mayur was so excited and wanted to make sure he wasn't late. They arrived at the field at 4:30pm and waited an hour and a half for practice to start. Just incredible passion and desire.

The first practice went well. The coaches asked Mayur to join the "open" team of 16-25 year olds so he would play to his actual age group. They would practice every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings at 6:30pm. Mayur would ride his bike the hour both ways for the practice. The first week of practice was a dream come true for Mayur. During the second practice he scored a goal during scrimmage. He was so thrilled, he told Rahulbhai who was over the moon and told everyone that Mayur's next stop is the Indian national team. During our next Sunday practice Mayur ran up to me and gave me a big hug and thank you. He had gotten along splendidly with the coaches and players, he felt totally accepted and part of the team. One of the players even told him that he would support his registration, even if his parents weren't able to.

Watching him practice that evening at Kahaani, I was so happy for him and proud that one of our players had taken their game to the next level. He may not make it all the way to the national team, but I would put his determination, heart, and love for the game up against anyone.

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