Dravid, Chhetri enthrall kids

Dravid, Chhetri enthrall kids

Two legends and scores of selfie-seeking children set the tone at the Bangalore Football Stadium as Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri and former Indian cricket team skipper Rahul Dravid strode onto the pitch.

On a scorching Saturday afternoon, Bengaluru FC hosted the Grassroots Festival that witnessed Chhetri leading out a slightly different set of youngsters as they pitted themselves against Gurpreet Singh Sandhu's colts.

Another highlight of the afternoon was when two sets of 40 children, who are a part of various BFC programmes, with Dravid in goal, were presented with a fabulous opportunity of coming up against Chhetri, Sandhu, Udanta Singh, Erik Paartalu and Juanan among others.

Dravid, also an ambassador for the club, was thrilled at the opportunity and said: "We had forty defenders and they still managed to get through (laughs). Honestly, it's great fun to be here and interact with these guys (BFC players) who are superstars in the game and in the city.

"It's priceless for the kids to be here and get to kick the ball around with these fantastic players," he added.

Chhetri echoed similar sentiments while also sharing an instance that close-captioned the admiration the players had for Dravid.

"Rahul asked Gurpreet for his gloves and Gurpreet immediately asked someone to click a picture of that. Later, he comes up to me and says 'Rahul Dravid actually used my gloves. I'm going to frame this'," he disclosed.

The Indian skipper also shared another interesting insight on how he wanted to be the next big thing in cricket.

"When I was younger, I wanted to be the next (Sachin) Tendulkar or Dravid. I even enrolled in a coaching camp but then I saw the speed of the ball and decided against it," he quipped.

As part of the initiative, BFC also identified two bright, young prospects -- 10-year-old Guru Kiran and 13-year-old Monica N -- who will receive training under BFC coaches.

While cricket has become a viable career option for many due to the extensive and comprehensive structure at the grassroot, football is still clawing its way up the sport ladder in the country.

Dravid, who is coach of the India under-19 team, said he was all for development of any sport and felt the need for a training system to kick-in when children are a lot younger.

"I'm not an expert but in general, when it comes to grassroot sport, I think you need to engage young kids as early as possible. For them to have fun with the sport, that is important. Regardless of the sport, children want to play tournaments and matches and the more they do that, the better chances you have of engaging them for a lifetime."

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