An ace footballer who is training village kids to be national-level players

Deepak Rawat had hoped his participation in the Santosh Trophy would be enough to get a job. But that didn't happen. So, he put his talent to the next best use – train kids and youths in his village and mould them into national-level players

Ankit Kumar SinghAnkit Kumar Singh   30 July 2019 7:47 AM GMT

Deepak Rawat, 32, has represented Bihar in the Santosh Trophy. But, when he realised his footballing abilities were not landing him a job, he put his talent to the next best use – train kids and youths in his village and mould them into national-level players.

"I have been playing football since I was in class VII," says Rawat of Devhaliya village in Kaimur district. "In 2001, I represented my school at the state level. In 2004, I was selected by the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Patna. Then, I played at the junior national (under 19), Samastipur, in 2005, and also the National under 21 (Manindra Dutta Ray Trophy) at Jamalpur Munger in Bihar. I even represented Bihar in the Santosh Trophy in 2012."

He had hoped his participation in the Santosh Trophy would be enough to get a job. But that didn't happen. Back home, his family had built a two-room house with aid from the government. But, given the rising cost of living, they were finding it difficult to make do with the pension of his father, a retired soldier. Rawat, therefore, decided to move back to his village. That was five years ago.

"When I came here, I saw children play football. But they were not well trained and they didn't know the rules of the game. For them, football was just entertainment," says Rawat. "I thought I could train these kids and help them make a career out of it," he says. "Today, some of them have played at the national level." Rawat now has more than 10 trainees under him.

"I owe my success to my mentor (Rawat)," says Amjad Ansari, who has been playing football for about two years and has participated in the nationals.

"My father works as a labourer. I can't afford to go anywhere else and play. I will have to train here and progress," says Syed, another student of Rawat.

"Kids in rural areas are talented, but only those in the major cities and districts are able to take advantage of government schemes," says Rawat. "Those in the villages are left to fend for themselves," he says. "We depend on donations from the villagers to even buy footballs and jerseys."

Rawat's father, now aged 75, is proud of his son. "I am very happy with what he is doing," he says. He, however, would be most happy if Rawat could get a job. "Will he get one when this story is published," he asks Gaon Connection.

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