For a 14-year-old who has just returned after experiencing some of the best football facilities abroad, it was surprising that Jayantha Mondal did not want to play in an English club.
“I want to play for a club here. I want to do something for the country,” he insists when prodded.
The Kolkata-based teenager is one of the three, along with Bishal Hazian of Kolkata and Mani Maran from Bangalore, who spent 10 days training with Scottish club Celtic FC, after being selected through the Mahindra Youth Football Challenge.
The trip, which they described as an enriching experience, also allowed them to watch two Scottish Premier League games - Celtic FC against Motherwell FC at Celtic Park and Celtic FC bersus Glasgow Rangers at Ibrox stadium.
“I felt very happy to be in the stadium. There were almost 60,000 people,” said Mani, 15, who also got a chance to play for Celtic under-16 team against Monash Football Club from Melbourne as a centre-forward for 60 minutes.
“Incidentally, my elder brother was also selected during a talent hunt (Arsenal Tata Tea Jagore Soccer stars) and played a match for Arsenal (junior team). However, the match I played in, we won 4-0,” he told reporters here today.
The difference between facilities in India and in Scotland for football was also not lost on the trio.
“Each player has access to good facilities. Each player has his own file where their strengths, weakness are noted,” said Mani, adding he had been asked to increase the pace of his game.
Meanwhile Bishal, who has spent all his life at the Salt Lake stadium - his father being a staff member - and who also managed to get a glimpse of Argentinian skipper Lionel Messsi during his recent trip to Kolkata, said the breakneck speed of the game at Scotland is something not seen in India.
“They are way ahead of us,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Mufaddal Choonia, deputy general manager, Corporate Strategy, Mahindra and Mahindra, said they were not looking at expanding the reach of the Mahindra Youth Football Challenge and its second edition too would have 32 schools from six cities participating in it.
“We are looking at consolidation,” he said, adding dates for the second season are being worked out.