On the Ball (Part 3): From Oman to Europe, chasing the dream of pro football

Lifestyle Tuesday 11/September/2018 18:56 PM
By: Times News Service
On the Ball (Part 3): From Oman to Europe, chasing the dream of pro football

Saurav Gopalakrishnan now stands on the cusp of everything he’s ever wanted to achieve. When he left Muscat to pursue his dream of playing professional football for a living, few would’ve imagined this is the path he’d be taking.
But his passion doesn’t just revolve around wearing shorts and kicking a ball around. An iron will, laser-precision focus, and nerves of steel are required to make it to the top. Saurav now plays football for CD Almenecar in Spain, a club that’s signed a partnership with Malaga City Pro Academy to give academy graduates a chance to play first-team football.
Saurav’s journey, though, was a bit different. He came fresh from a training camp in England, where he’d initially spent the summer. His journey in the land that invented football, though, would last a lot longer than that.
“I have a never-say-die attitude; that means that whatever comes my way, I will find a way to overcome it,” said Saurav, in an exclusive interview with Times of Oman.
There is a saying in youth football. It’s your ability that has gotten you there, it is your attitude that will take you further. Saurav’s high work rate and willingness to work hard, coupled with his dedication and passion saw the camp operators in the UK call him back once the summer ended. This was the dream move Saurav had long been waiting for.
“When I came back to Oman, I was a bit confused, because I didn’t know what to do next and didn’t know where to go from here,” he recalled. “That summer, the officials at the camp in the UK said they wanted to have me back and they wanted me to be a part of this programme that combined both schooling and football. They would take care of my schooling, my accommodation, my training, everything, and this was obviously the move I had been hoping and waiting for, for so long; so when the opportunity came my way, I grabbed it with both hands.”
“I consider myself very fortunate to get an opportunity like this, because I know that this is not something everyone can get,” added Saurav. “It is very important that I take this and make full use of it, because you don’t get many chances such as this one, where you have the opportunity to pursue your dreams. It’s also very important to stay focused. I’ve seen so many people, and many of them were not focused enough or not dedicated enough and they didn’t use this to their advantage.”
His doting mum, Seeta Gopalakrishnan, who was also part of this interview, was on hand to shed some light on the sort of peer pressure her family faced from all sections of society, who asked her why she was so willing to gamble her son’s future for a very distant shot at success.
“I think it was really simple for us, because we just focused on what needed to be done,” she said. “After that initial camp, Saurav spent almost two years in the UK, playing and training. After that, we had to take a while to figure out what would come next, so I was just sticking with my child, doing what needed to be done and motivating him. I realised that football may give him maybe a five- or 10-year window, but even if he doesn’t succeed there, he is quite an intelligent young boy so he has his entire life ahead of him.”
“That’s one of the messages I want to strongly give out here,” she added. “Why do we limit ourselves? Why do we think it is the end of the world?”
To be continued in Part Four.