Our life is full of unexpected surprises, which are both good and bad. You can never predict what happens next. But for Kerala boy R Manikandan, life has certainly taken a positive U-turn. The 14 year old who some years back was begging on the streets of Kerala will now join the stars of the biggest football club in the world and train with them for a month.
R Manikandan – From Rags to Riches
Kerala boy R Manikandan’s story comes across as the typical rags to riches story. He was rescued while begging with his sister on the streets of Kerala by a children’s organization back in 2011. The youngster is now set to live his dream for a month-long stay in Spain alongside the stars of the iconic Spanish La Liga club Real Madrid. Clearly, life has taken a complete 360 degrees turn for this 14-year-old.
Sreekumar, the administrator at the children’s home that rescued R Manikandan, started taking inmates of the dilapidated orphanage to the nearby Fathima Mata College grounds in Kollam due to lack of space. At the start, nobody cared about these street wandering kids and they were just limited to collecting out balls that went across the field.
But, coach MP Abhilash, who used to train senior players at the same ground saw his potential and gave him a chance to play with the seniors. This match turned out to be a life changer for R Manikandan, who is now the under-15 player of the I-League.
R Manikandan – An accidental Discovery
Since his ‘accidental discovery’ by coach Abhilash, there has been no looking back for this lanky footballer. The six-foot teenager is a mild mannered person and does not speak much. However, his game game-play and presence on the field speaks volumes. R Manikandan is now all set to fly to Spain in the month of July for his 30 days long trip. After this, R Manikandan will be sent to US or a Latin American country by to hone his skills further.
Amazingly, this young Indian prodigy was discovered purely by accident. He was spotted during a practice session by coach MP Abhilash, who gave him a chance to play with the seniors. This was his moment of glory from where R Manikandan has not looked back.
Manikandan right now plays for Kollam district and the Football Plus Professional Soccer Academy in Chennai.
R Manikandan – Lots to gain from the Madrid Trip
“I spotted him last February. In just one year, he has improved brilliantly and I feel if he’s groomed well he will be an asset to the country,” said coach Abhilash, who will also be accompanying Manikandan to Madrid.
In 2011 Manikandan and his sister were rescued from the premises of Oachira Parabrahma temple in the neighbouring Alappuzha district.
R Manikandan as of now represents the district and Football Plus Professional Soccer Academy in Chennai. It was here in Chennai that some foreign coaches told the academy about his hidden talents and suggested his name for the special training. Coach Abhilash, who will accompany him to Madrid, said that it is his “technique and agility” that give him an edge over others while his height adds on to his prowess.
An ardent Lionel Messi fan, for R Manikandan football is his passion. He says he owes everything to his coach and supervisor of the children’s home. Like every upcoming footballer, the gifted stopper back wants to don the Indian colours and play top class football for a professional club.