HomeTrendingKreedOn CandidsNikhil Mali Calls for Promoting Futsal in India
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Nikhil Mali Calls for Promoting Futsal in India

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Nikhil Mali is already a star in the smaller version of Indian football, called Futsal. That is a 5-a-side football game played on a hard court like a basketball court, smaller than a football pitch, and mainly indoors. Having scored 24 and 25 goals for Delhi FC in the All India Football Federation-organized National Futsal Championship, last and this season respectively, the Pune-based striker has already established his name as one of the prominent strikers. The 26-year-old striker is currently playing for the Karnataka team, Bengaluru United FC, which is participating in the ongoing second division I-League. Moreover, Nikhil is also contracted with Minerva FC as the team’s Futsal player.

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The Journey of Nikhil Mali

Nikhil hails from Pune. His father who worked with a private company is retired. Along with his mother, Nikhil has a brother who is a marine engineer. Nikhil was passionate about the game since his childhood. Nikhil Mali especially used to play 5-a-side football at random in his locality, in any small empty place also. Even he used to play this game on the small tennis court in his locality with local boys. After schooling, he gave a trial at the DSK-Liverpool Academy. He was selected for their first batch. While completing his studies he played for Chetak FC and GOG Club in the Pune Super Division League and also represented his university team. 

During this time, he was introduced to Futsal and went to Mumbai to play the 5-a-side tournament. He played for Kalina Rangers and represented India in the F5WC 2020 tournament in South Africa. Later in 2020, he participated in the open trials at Minerva and signed for them. As a Minerva, he finished runner-up in the 2020 Himachal Football League. He was then loaned to Delhi FC and won the Delhi Super Division twice in two seasons. He also played in the I-League qualifiers with the club and finished third.

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Most recently, Nikhil won the Hero Futsal Club Championship with DFC and was the man of the tournament.  Then he joined Aizawl FC last year but did not get a chance properly. He started only in one match and played as a substitute in six matches. So in a bid to prove his mettle in 11-a-side football, Nikhil has joined Bengaluru United FC this season. In the Strafford Cup, he had an impressive show although he was able to score only one goal.

Nikhil said,

“I am being generally played as wing-half where I did not get much chance of scoring. Still, I am happy to have made a few assists that helped the team to get goals.”

Futsal and Mainstream Football

Nikhil feels playing in a 5-a-side game has helped him to mature as a footballer. He said,

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“Playing in Futsal has helped me to gain the ability to take quick decisions, dribbling quality, and reflex action. While playing in the second division league, I realize I have improved in these aspects.”

 Promotion of Futsal in India

Nikhil feels Futsal in India should be promoted more. He stated,

“If you look at the World’s great footballers, most of them settled in mainstream football after having performed in Futsal consistently. I feel Futsal in India should be promoted. There are a lot of talented footballers who can shine in the format. But they do not have the scope.”

Nikhil is now looking forward to the AFC Club Futsal Championship to be held this year.  Talking about I-League ans ISL, he said,

“I want to play in the I-League and ISL also in near future.” 

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