Ranjit Bajaj - From a Roadie looking to find a meaning to his life, to an Indian Football Visionary...

Girish Das  |  Minerva Punjab  |  2 Years Ago

What Ranjit Bajaj, the proud owner of Minerva Punjab FC sworn to us when we first met him before the commencement of this I-League season is somehow proving to be the absolute. His belief in his staff and performanc guarantee from his boys looked a little overconfident at first, but only four months from then, the country is going into the biggest tournament on the planet, the FIFA World Cup in the shades of Minerva Punjab and that’s no miniscule deal. In the recent call up, six new faces have been included from the Minerva U18 squad, which makes thier number of players selected for the Indian U17 World Cup squad to go 10.


Considering the recent success of the Club’s youth system, it’s clear that the Punjabi outfit is on the right path to work harder on their budding footballers, which also reflected in their debut I-League season wherein they thoroughly relied upon their U22 players, who at first looked mediocre yet managed to surprise everyone eventually. In February this year, after beating the likes of Bengaluru FC in the semis and Ozone FC in the final to clinch the Nike Premier Cup second time in a row, Ranjit Bajaj is certainly on cloud nine, avoiding myopic view of Indian football unlike many. The success stories of the Punjabis don’t stop here though.


While Punjab is devouring into drugs and menial jobs, it’s the CEO and Founder of Minerva Punjab, the fourth club playing in the topmost layer in Indian football in all age categories to be commended for his commitment to lunge the boys forward and encourage them in every possible way to perform at the best of their levels.  “Today, there are two or three Punjabi boys in each team – ISL or I-League. For them, to shift base to Goa or Kolkata at a young age wasn’t an easy option.” Bajaj boasts.


From persuading Punjab State Association to embark on the footballing journey back again to hiring the former AIFF Technical Director Colm Toal, Ranjit Bajaj’s figure is growing taller with each passing day in Indian football. Well, it’s not what we say alone, the decision of Stephan Constantine first calling the MPFC U-18 squad to play two friendly games with the U17 World Cup squad, to later include six of their most impressive players into the same team says it loud and clear.

About Toal, Bajaj said, “If you have a great chef and bad ingredients, you can still make good food. If you have a crappy chef and good ingredients, you may get bad food. People buy stars, but no one tells them how to play as a team. The AIFF is saying, Sanjoy Sen is saying that from a developmental point of view that it is the best decision I could have taken.”


Minerva have also signed another UEFA Pro Licence coach in Jose Carlos Hevia. Bajaj insisted that the signings of both Hevia and Toal are for his junior teams. “You can’t develop football by signing oldies. You have to sign 18-19-year-olds for your first team. Cricket is a game where we can catch them at 11. We want to catch kids at six, seven or eight years old. We’ll start our Under-13’s next year and the U11’s a year after that. Three years down the line, we want the bulk of our U16’s and U18’s to form my main team.”


Our team spoke to the Indian World Cup team’s coaching staff about the status of Minerva boys in the Indian team for the strength they have in the side, he said “The boys are positive and come from the one of the best youth academies in the country”. He added, “We are so impressed by the quality the players possess that it’d be unfair not to give them a chance. The numbers don’t matter at such a big stage, players are giving their all to make it to the final shortlisting”.


Though, India will play being underdogs afore the home crowd in the World Cup and it’d be overambitious to believe that we have a chance in front of the world giants, however the kind of breed of footballers being grown in the circuit, the day India to going on top of Asia or the world wouldn’t be a surprise.


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