As kick-off nears, forgotten Gaston can only lamentSeptember 20, 2017
MUMBAI: It’s late Tuesday afternoon and it’s raining cats and dogs. There’s a football match going on at Fr. Agnel’s Ground in Navi Mumbai. The players look tired playing on the rain-soaked pitch and just want to finish the match and get home. Looking on from the stands is 17-year-old Gaston D’Silva. He’s wearing an India jersey which has his name on it. He’s here to attend his college’s (Fr. Agnel) training session after the match.
Despite only four of his teammates being present, he is still enthusiastic about getting ready. His friends tell him that the practice session is going to be called off, but he’s still waiting for the coach. He loves the game that much. “I just want to train,” he says.
Just a little over a year ago, he was a regular feature in the Indian team that will soon take part in the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Gaston’s love for football came naturally. His dad Michael played the sport professionally and always encouraged his son to take up the sport. Seeing his speed, agility and ability to deliver pinpoint crosses into the box, his school coach decided to play him as a wingback.
In 2013, Gaston was selected to train at the Indian youth academy. He was however dropped in 2014 and told to work on his attitude. That was the time when India were awarded the rights to host the U-17 World Cup and his age-group players were the ones eligible to play the tournament.
While he was distraught at getting dropped, it didn’t stop him from training. Soon he was selected to represent the youth team of Mumbai FC. In April 2015, India U-17 coach Nicolai Adam held trials at the Cooperage Stadium in Colaba and Gaston made the cut. In July, Gaston travelled with the team to Germany, Iran and Spain. It was during the last leg of the tour where he pulled his groin and had to be sidelined. He recovered in Jan 2016 and was immediately called up by coach Adam.