Noida: Shaurya Kakar (15) and Veer Pratap Kakar (12) are two young budding footballers from Sector 25, Noida. The brothers come from a lineage of footballers as their grandfather, Dhaninder Kakar was also a state-level footballer of his time. Their mother, father and grandmother also come from rich sporting history.
It was in 2019 that Shaurya got scouted by Delhi Dynamos Football Club, one of the biggest North Indian Football Clubs to play I -League under -13 on scholarship. Veer Pratap Kakar is also enrolled in Conscient Football School on Scholarship.
Even at this young age, both Shaurya and Veer have several acclaims to their credit. Shaurya is currently an I league player U-18 in Conscient Football School and represented Odisha Football Club in the Sub-Junior I- league U-13 (2019-2020). He has scouted and played for B- Division League from Rohini Football Club as well.
Owing to their hard work and talent, they both were invited by Saleem Sheikh, an Egyptian coach for training in one of the best academies in Egypt.
The highlight of their footballing journey is a training programme they were both part of in Brazil, the heart of world football. They got this one-month training as a 100% scholarship. They went for trials in New Delhi and gave their all-out efforts to earn this scholarship, which took them to a training camp at DS Sports Academy, São Paulo, Brazil. A team of 14 Indian players under the guidance of Max Sports Academy reached Brazil representing India.
The footballing duo has also got some much-deserved limelight too. Both Shaurya and Veer have been featured in a documentary highlighting Sports Facilities in India, shot by The Arc Cinema Paus of the United Kingdom, which will be released worldwide shortly.
Even though both Shaurya and Veer are talented, their skills and grasp of the sport come from a lot of training and a disciplined schedule. Their schedule is packed with hardcore training from Monday to Saturday. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are for ball training in the morning. The rest of the days are for conditioning and strengthening in the gym. Thy work on their speed stamina and agility on Saturday. Sundays are usually reserved for matches.
Even in the times of Covid, while the whole world was grappling with a deadly virus, the brothers didn't let this hamper their training. They started training at their own home. They worked on their fitness and body conditioning. Waking up at 5:30 and working out for almost four hours s day was a daily routine for them, which paid off as they went on to win several tournaments.
He tells us, "People were surprised to see both of us when we returned to school, as I was never so fit".
Along with training, they follow a very healthy diet. Turmeric milk is a must for them at night before bed. Carbonated drinks and ice-chilled water is a strict no for them, and so are junk foods and sweets. Earlier, their parents consulted a nutritionist to look after the diet but recently, the parents themselves have started to draw diet plans for them. The parents also regularly conduct several tests to keep a check on their kids' fitness.
As Shaurya and Veer are young, the parents decide to keep them away from the artificial proteins. Chicken, fish, soybean, rajma, chole, and pulses among others are included in their diet. Ghee-laden parantha and red meat are also strictly prohibited.
Usha Kakar, the grandmother says, “We are Punjabi, still we never eat our favourite dishes because we wish these boys health and fitness. So our family avoids such kinds of food which contain lots of oils and jars of butter.”
Gaurav says, “I love aloo parantha and we never roast them in ghee, we dry roast them, make them as a chapatti. These kids avoid all kinds of sweets, chocolates and even sugar because 50 % is the training and the 50 % is diet".
The kids are also juggling between their studies and sports, striking a balance to maintain both. Shaurya says, “I get tired many times, but I still manage to take some time out for my training. I am managing both my education and my sports simultaneously because education is also very important."
He tells us, "After coming from school, we have our lunch. For three days we go to the Yamuna sports complex and rest of the three days we go to Gurgaon for our training."
In striking this balance, Neetu, the mother has a great role to play. She makes sure to teach her kids on the way while dropping by sports complexes for their training. Gaurav, the father tells us, “Many times these kids eat their food in the car. They have forgotten what is a comfortable life, all they know to wake up and keep running the whole day.”
Shaurya and Veer’s grandfather, a state-level football champion of his time, who had to quit football due to the health conditions of his father, and had to set up a business when he was just in class 10, remembers the day when Shaurya said to him, "Your dream will be fulfilled, I will fulfill your dream, I will become a footballer". He tells us, “They wish to fulfill my dream by becoming a footballer. And I would love to see this happening. I am equally waiting for this to happen. My blessings are with my grandsons."
Shaurya says, “I am fit, and playing football has prized me with such a good physique, and this gives such a rewarding feeling. I feel like a champion inside me is emerging day by day. My friends get fascinated and they ask me to train them too. Sports teaches us what sportsmanship is, the meaning of hard work, discipline, dedication, desire to achieve more, desire to win and to never give up and the most basic thing, to remain connected to earth”
Veer Pratap, the younger brother tells us, “Being a younger brother of a football champion, I feel good that I get a chance of playing with big boys. People give us love and respect so we feel that we have done something big. We want to continue working for our dreams.”
Gaurav Kakar, Shaurya and Veer's father, who himself was a taekwondo state level player, but is now a captain in merchant navy, while talking about his sons' training in Brazil says, “They were extremely talented, skilful, focused and disciplined in the academy. It was a residential academy and Shaurya and Veer were able to learn and grow on and off the field".
"This was the first time they were all alone outside the country where in they had to not only practice but also take care of themselves including washing their clothes etc. So in all, it was a faceoff with the real-life situations and we are happy they have learnt some good lessons and are more passionate now."
Neetu Kakar, their morther, a basketball player herself in her youth, also talks about her sons' time in Brazil. She tells, “Though language was a barrier there, but from coaches to players, everyone displayed true sportsmanship and they realized that football has no language. The coaches were impressed Shaurya’s and Veer’s game and they both were praised for their conduct and discipline."
Neetu further tells us, "As I am from an army background, I was always into academics and sports alike. Their grandfather also holds a strong football background. It feels like everything is in my kids' favour to become footballers."
Usha Kakar, the grandmother of these highly talented kids was also a sportsperson of her time. She was in NCC and was a New Delhi’s cadet and shooter. She always wanted her grandkids to be close to some sorts of sports. She tells us, "I always told Neetu that no matter whether you have a girl or boy, make sure to inculcate the spirit of sportsmanship in them and make sure they are into sports.
Apart from that, some of his achievments include-
• Awarded as “The Youngest Player of the Tournament” - International Cup of Joy in Coimbatore. (2018)
• Awarded as “The Best Player” from Instituto Palas Athena in Brazil. (2019)
• Awarded as “The Best Player of School Soccer League 2021-22” for his discipline and attitude toward the game.
• Awarded as “The Top Goal Scorer of School Soccer League 2021-22”.
The younger brother, Veer Pratap Kakar is currently an I League Player U-13 in Conscient Football and some of his acclaims include-
• Awarded “ The Best Player” of JBM School League 2018
• Awarded as The Most Valuable Player in Delhi Cup 2021-22.
• Awarded as “The Highest Goal Scorer of the tournament” in the U-14 Rising Star Cup (2022)
This story is a replug on the occasion of National Football Day