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Odisha FC youngsters relishing the opportunity to train at Qatar’s Aspire Academy

Odisha FC youngsters relishing the opportunity to train at Qatar's Aspire Academy. (Photo courtesy: Odisha FC)
Odisha FC youngsters relishing the opportunity to train at Qatar's Aspire Academy. Photo courtesy: Odisha FC

Four young talents from the Odisha FC setup – Deven Sawhney, Ruben Letkhotinchon, CVL Remtluanga and S Lalhrezuala – received an opportunity of a lifetime back in September after being invited to train at the world-renowned Aspire Academy in Doha, Qatar and are thoroughly enjoying the experience. The four budding talents were part of the Delhi Dynamos – now Odisha FC – under 18 team and helped their club win the 2018-19 AIFF Elite Youth League from the Delhi zone.

Odisha FC’s close association with the famous Qatari football academy dates back to 2017-18 and Shubham Sarangi, now a regular starter in the club’s senior team, is one such beneficiary of this partnership having trained with the Aspire Academy in the past.

Talking about the four lucky youngsters honing their skills the Aspire Academy, Odisha FC owner Rohan Sharma said, “I’m happy to have four of our boys at Aspire Academy as part of our ongoing agreement with them. They’ve been there since the summer and they’re improving every day. I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Sr. Ivan Bravo for all the help he’s given the boys. Our boys are having a great time there. I can’t wait to have them back in our team soon so they can make a huge impact like Shubham has this year.”

One of the youngsters, Sawhney, expressed his delight at having been the beneficiary of such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and spoke about the impact joining Odisha FC have had on his young career. “I joined the club in 2018. My game has changed since then. It has transformed into more of an international style of playing with more quick passes and assists. Since then, I have also attended the Schools India camp and was sent for India U-19 team trials. I thank all my coaches and officials, to help me make such a smooth transition from my earlier team and game, into what I am today. It’s just been just 17 months and I have learnt so much.”

Ruben, who was also at the academy last season, added, “I joined the club in November 2017. In 2018, I played Hero I-league’s second division and was selected for the national side as well. It was a great learning experience for me at Aspire last season and now I have got another opportunity to train there again this year.”

Remtluanga – current Chennaiyin FC star Lalrinzuala Chhangte’s younger brother –and S Lalhrezuala, meanwhile, may have joined Odisha just last season back but have climbed the ladder quickly. They demonstrated enough potential to make the cut for a stint at the Aspire Academy. As part of the agreement between Odisha FC and the Aspire Academy, the Bhubaneswar-based Hero ISL club will continue to scout local talented players and the most exceptional among them will be sent to Aspire Academy.