By Manisha Tailor
Being told that his feet were ‘too slow’ at the age of only 12, Bradford boy Indy Aujla speaks about how rejection did not deter him from pursuing his passion. But instead acted as ammunition for wanting to succeed in a sport where in the region of only 1% sign a professional contract and make it to playing at the top level. Now playing for conference side, Boston United, Aujla speaks to me about how he just ‘knew’ he was destined to become a footballer.
Indy reminisces on how his football journey began, “I was 9 years old when I walked past a flyer in my primary school. It said trials for Queensbury Celtic which is a local Sunday league club. I went home and told my dad who said he would only take me to trial if I could do 200 kick ups!” Indy, determined to attend the trials, practised day in day out wherever he could, from the local streets, school playground to parking lots! “When I did the full 200 I ran in to tell my dad, I was ecstatic and there was no looking back from there.”
As a youngster, he also trialled with Bradford City and Leeds United, however was left bitterly disappointed. “It was disappointing and I realised that I would need to work twice as hard if I really wanted to make it. I went back to Queensbury Celtic with a burning desire to prove the coach wrong”. His hard-work and willpower led him to represent the successful Bradford School and West Yorkshire School boys teams as well as reaching the finals of the Sir Bobby Charlton soccer schools competition.
Aujla’s confidence and performance was beaming at Queensbury Celtic and it was by no surprise that this was recognised by Bradford City who offered him a contract at 14 years of age. Despite being rejected from the club two years prior, his strength in mind and character showed that he really was good enough. “The coach was an experienced ex-player and coach and recognised the qualities I had. I absolutely loved being at a professional club – I knew it was for me”.
Two years on City offered him a 2 year apprenticeship, whilst also being scouted by premiership side Manchester United. With his family, he made the conscious decision to remain in his hometown with a club who he believed would aid him into the professional game. “My first year as an apprentice at City was great and involved training with the first team and playing both in the reserves youth team respectively. The youth team coach, Chris Dowhan, gave me the Young Player of The Year Award which was fantastic! In the second year from the group of 10 lads, 7 were offered professional deals”. Unfortunately this meant 3 were released, with Indy being one of them.
However, this highlights the reality of how difficult it is to become a professional footballer and the resilience and courage one must demonstrate to be able to overcome rejection and disappointment. “With plenty of love and support from my great family I picked myself up and continued to pursue my dream with belief and desire. I overcame many more obstacles on the way to be where I am today. I am thankful to have experienced it all because there is nothing that we haven’t overcome in the game, and there comes a time you become immune to the knocks and just know that you can achieve anything”.
Indy certainly has experienced the range within the Football Pyramid. Having played for league and non-league clubs and going out to Belgium he is in a position to adapt to any style of football. His future ambition is to be back playing in the Football League. “I can be a great asset to any manger with versatility in playing anywhere in midfield and defence. With interest from Leeds United and Brentford in the past year I know I am doing something right. I’m happy at the moment with Boston United and enjoying my football. The fans, players and management are great and it’s very well run football club. I look forward to seeing what 2014 brings!”
Success will bear fruit if energy is channelled into creating a positive mind and not dwelling on rejection and disappointment. Indy states the importance of self-belief, “no matter how dark the days, there is always light around the corner if you believe. I’m very lucky also to have close family that have supported me in every aspect of my life and have made me the man I am today”.
1 minute quick fire round with Indy Aujla!
Favourite food: Bibi’s (Grandma’s) breakfast- omellete, fish fingers, waffles, beans, toast and tea!
Best film– Carlito’s Way
Favourite colour– Red
Most silly moment -running session in the thunder and lightning
Something funny– Bhangra dancing in the changing rooms
3 words to describe yourself – Passionate, dedicated and brave
Manisha Tailor (@ManishaTailor1)