Soccer was never an easy sport to pursue in India. From teachers to family members, I was always told that it is not worth taking soccer seriously in this country. I was able to persuade my parents to support my dream after I represented Haryana State and traveled to Bolton Wanderers Football Club for a competition.
I was fortunate enough to be admitted to Brooke House College, a UK based boarding school that also had a full-time academy. I finally experienced soccer at a high level where the pace of the game was a hundred times faster than India, and the competition was fierce. It was not just about competing against other teams; I had to fight for a spot in the starting lineup each week! Fortunately for me, I was made the vice-captain in my final year. It was a huge responsibility for two captains to manage a 50-man squad. I was lucky enough to play against some of the top professional youth academy teams such as Manchester City, Hull City, Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest, MK Dons, Blackpool FC, Reading FC and Bournemouth FC. I was given a wonderful chance to play with players from all over the world. Some of them went on to play professional soccer for teams like Benfica FC and Hearts FC.
I decided to pursue higher education in the U.S. where college soccer was booming. I had friends from England and Europe who were making their way to America as well, so it definitely seemed like a great option! And I was sure that I made the right decision once I arrived at University of Charleston on a soccer scholarship. In the three years I spent there, I was a part of a team that won the regular conference season (3x), conference tournament (3x), regional tournament (3x) and made it to the NCAA Final Four Championship three times in a row as well. I was awarded the Elite 90 Award at the NCAA Banquet in 2016 – An award that recognizes the true essence of a student-athlete. I got an opportunity to play with some great soccer players who are now playing in the Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League. The overall holistic development I had as a student-athlete was so much more than I could ever imagine. It was truly an experience of a lifetime.
After having the time of my life in the UK and then in the U.S., I decided to help other young athletes in Asia follow their dreams and aspirations. A lot of young athletes are often misguided because there are not enough people to provide the right guidance. I know a lot of athletes myself who have sacrificed their education to follow their dream of professional soccer. I am not suggesting what is right and what is wrong, but education is something that is a key part of any person’s development as it shapes their future. We are blessed to live in a world where there is a perfect solution to this problem - U.S. universities provide an option where you can pursue soccer and education. And let me be clear, college soccer in the U.S. is a lot different from college soccer in any other part of the world. It is the route to Major League Soccer. If professional soccer is not your dream, you can still use the sport as leverage to get into some of the top universities in the world. If you are being recruited by a certain college coach like I was, you will be ahead of all other students that may be applying to that specific university. Additionally, you get to play the sport you love at a very high level for at least four years!
So, do not think. If you believe this is something you can benefit from, get in touch. If you know someone who can benefit from this, get me in touch with them.