From Dadar to New Delhi, via New Jersey

Overseas pick Namit Deshpande aims for football glory as part of India’s U-17 World Cup squad

Mumbai: He was born in Shivaji Park, the nursery of Indian cricket. Before moving to New Jersey along with his parents at the age of six, he would accompany his mother, who along with her siblings was a competitive tennis player, to the Shivaji Park Gymkhana tennis courts for a hit or two. But had he not moved to the land of the free, Namit Deshpande would perhaps not have been a part of India’s squad for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, which kicks off on Friday.

Namit, 17, is one of the two footballers who were selected in India’s squad through the overseas scouting programme (OSP) conducted jointly by the All India Football Federation and the Sports Authority of India. The central defender is a certainty in India’s starting line-up for what could be the only Indian team participating in a global football tournament.

As strange as it is to see an Indian youngster in the U.S. hooked to football or soccer, in the American parlance so is his journey to Delhi from New Jersey.

His parents, Sandeep and Radhika Deshpande, architects who migrated to the U.S. in 2006, were surprised when they received a call from the OSP representatives in May 2016. Neither Sandeep nor Radhika were aware that Namit, on the insistence of his friends, had emailed his videos to the scouting programme representatives.

Source:- The Hindu

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