Few if any would have heard of the Bhangra Boys, the Indian national soccer team currently 151 on the Fifa ranking. However, local soccerites could be hearing a lot about them in future.
On Saturday, two young players from Port Elizabeth, Kagan Assam and Anele ‘Bullet’ Mxoli will be jetting out to join Faria Strikers, a development team in Goa.
They will be joined by Nathaniel van Graan from Cape Town.
The trio have each signed a one-year contract – which is renewable for 3 – 5 years.
The South Africans will be living in a ‘player’s village’ in Goa. The village has its own gym, pool and training facilities. They will be training twice per day with the team and will also be taking part in tournaments throughout India. They will have their own chef, transport with a delegated driver, sponsored leisure wear, and playing gear.
Faria Strikers will be coached by South African Wallace Walker, who has joined the club as director of coaching.
Wallace will guide the team in the Goa FA First Division League and other all India major invitational tournaments.
The three players were recruited by Walker, who spotted them when he was assisting St Georges. They will be among five foreign players permitted to play in the league.
Assam is currently a third year Sport Management Student at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. He started his junior football career with Saints Football Club and represented the Northern Areas Soccer Board since he was nine years old until he left to play for Callies in the PE FA district at the age of 17. He has been playing for Callies for the past five years and also played for NMMU and Fairview Rovers (Vodacom League), as well as St Georges (Castle League).
Mxoli is a product of the now defunct UPE/FCK Soccer School of Excellence.
Strikers is owned by Faria Sports Management which has ambitious plans for soccer in the former Portuguese state.
The club plans to concentrate on youngsters and has launched an innovative youth development programme to unearth talent in the State. They have adopted three schools to give impetus to sports in other disciplines. A football academy, with gymnasium and spa facilities for youngsters, is in the pipeline.
Soccer has made tremendous strides in India with national association entering into an agreement with Brazil. India will assist the Brazilians with cricket, while they will assist the Indians with soccer.
Both Assam and Mxoli are filled with trepidation as they prepare for the unknown, but both insist it is a chance of a lifetime to further their football careers.