Goalie with a lot of promise

Goalie with a lot of promise

Focus on sports talent

DREAMING BIG: Pranav Harish of FAPS was adjudged the best goalkeeper in the GS Randhawa Memorial tournament. DH Photo/Srikanta Sharma R

Hockey was only an afterthought for Pranav Harish but the talented goalkeeper has been making quite an impression over the last couple of years.

The 10th standard student of Frank Anthony Public School, named the best goalkeeper in last month’s Rotary Bangalore Indiranagar Dr GS Randhawa Memorial inter-school tournament, initially wanted to be a footballer.

His dreams, however, never came to fruition. With his school boasting of a decent football side, the teenager could not make an impression that would propel him to the junior side. Pranav though wanted to represent his school at any cost.

His coach then suggested he take up hockey as there were some spots up for grabs. Pranav, studying sixth grade then, quickly dumped the studs for a hockey stick and he instantly felt a connection. He fell in love with the game immediately which he hadn’t played until then.

He started off as a defender and continued in that path for two years before having another change of heart when he saw his school-mate Shreesha keep goals. “I noticed goalkeeper Bunty (Shreesha’s nickname) got the most cheers. Whenever he made a save, everyone applauded. That’s when I decided I want to be a goalkeeper.”

When Pranav expressed his decision to switch to keeping, coach Antony Kempes, a former State player, was taken by surprise. He initially scoffed at the idea, telling him to focus on improving as a defender. But the doors of opportunity opened for Pranav when Shreesha, in 10th standard, chose to stop playing to concentrate on his studies.

Pranav first started practising with tennis balls. He showed decent reflexes and impressed with his commitment, Kempes started to spend more time with the kid.

In 2016 Pranav bagged the best goalkeeper award in the Fr Eric Vaz memorial meet and then took home the same honour in the Centenary Shield -- perhaps the most prestigious inter-school hockey tournament in Bengaluru -- last year. At the Allan MacBride event this year, he also won the player of the tournament prize. 

“I have to thank Anto (Kempes) sir for coaching me. Apart from grooming me, he’s been a guiding light. He always encouraged me to aim higher. He got me to train under India player Sandeep Michael where my game improved a lot. Now he wants me to attend the State trials. But since I’m in 10th standard, I can’t devote too much time for hockey. Once I complete my board exams, I’ll attend the trials. I wish to play for the State.”

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