Chronicling Suhail Bhat – The Kashmiri prodigy who made his mark in the UAE

GOAL tells you the fascinating story of Suhail Bhat, who made a name for himself on her very first exhibition trip after scoring against the UAE …

Football or academics.

Suhail Bhat was in a dilemma when the AIFF (All India Football Federation) offered him an opportunity. He always dreamed of representing India on the international stage and yet he was in a dilemma before putting pen to paper, as he believed his studies would take a step back if he joined the Indian U16 team.

A grade 10 student at Shah-i-Hamdan Educational Institute, Bemina, Srinagar, Bhat has always excelled in school. But his passion for football finally got the better of him and the 15-year-old agreed to join the Indian U16 team.

“He is a very serious and good student in academics. But I let him join because AIFF provides the best platform to grow. There were other teams willing to sign him in Kashmir but I thought it would be better for him to join the AIFF structure. “Sajid Dar, coach of Bhat and honorary technical director of the Jammu & Kashmir Sports Council Football Academy, told Goal.

Bhat was first spotted by Dar during one of the scouting sessions undertaken by the Sports Council as part of “Mission 22,” which consisted of scouting for talent in 22 J&K districts for talent. potential players. In 2017, he was selected as a striker for the Srinagar camp in the U-13 category.

But soon the kid turned out to be too good looking for his age. Dar with Mehrajuddin Wadoo, the academy in charge, decided to promote him to U15. After spending almost a year he was promoted again and this time to the U18 squad.

“We had our eyes on him because he showed a lot of promise. He has a good size and is well built. Mujhe laga yeh aagey jayega (I felt he would move forward in his career), ”recalls Wadoo as he reflects on his progress.

Bhat boasts of awesome physical attributes necessary for a focused man. He also has a deadly right foot and his knack for finding spaces behind central opposition defenders makes him a typical poacher. But the most important characteristic is his persistence for perfection.

“He’s a hard worker. It will make the difference. In addition, he is approximately 5’9 ”. He will still grow. He has a sense of purpose. And it makes the most of its size, ”Wadoo said.

The youngster had played in the AIFF youth leagues but Dar and Wadoo wanted to test him against older opposition and fielded him in the Premier Division of the Jammu & Kashmir State Football League. After seeing him excel against the big boys, his two coaches felt he could make a breakthrough in the Indian U16 team. Therefore, they connected with coach Bibiano Fernandes and requested a try. Bhat went to Goa and after a few training sessions Fernandes was impressed.

“We wanted to push its limits. If he were to attend the national camp, he shouldn’t feel unprepared. Also, we didn’t want to recommend until we are completely sure of its qualities. So he had to prove himself against his elders, ”argued Dar.

Wadoo and Dar were glued to the Indian soccer team’s social media page on Sunday night as India faced the United Arab Emirates in a friendly match. Bhat started off the bench but was brought in in the second half. Within minutes he saw the goal but shot wide, but in the 79th minute, when Tyson Singh drilled a low cross, he made no mistake to put the ball in the net.

Yeh darta nehi hai. (He is not scared). He will try to face the defenders and overtake them. It’s a good prospect. He’s under a good trainer like Bibiano and doing exhibition trips will help him grow even more, ”said Wadoo.

It was his first exhibition trip and the young boy started off on a bright note, taking a step in the right direction. There is no doubt that it has quality. But to succeed at the highest level, he still has miles to go. If he keeps his head down and continues to be a “hard worker,” as Wadoo has mentioned, he will be one of the players to watch for years to come.