Slumdog Footballer

11-year-old football prodigy from Indian slum to train at Germany’s famous football club

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11-year-old Chandan Nayak

An 11-year-old football player has been selected to play at Germany’s most iconic club Bayern Munich as an academy player for two months. Chandan Nayak hails from the impoverished area of Bhubaneswar where he lives in the Sabar Sahi slum.

Nayak is one of the few selected for the all-expenses-paid junior football camp to Munich. The child grew up in difficult circumstances with a poor family who struggled to make ends meet, he now aims to join the Indian football team and win glory for his country.

Nayak said, “I am very happy, I want to become a player for the Indian team one day. I really want to thank my coach.”

The young footballer sites Lionel Messi as his inspiration.

Nayak’s Coach Jayadev Mahapatra outlines the family’s underprivileged situation, “His family is a broken one. His father had deserted him at a very young age. His mother works as a servant at various places and is able to manage the family. She has sacrificed a lot to ensure that her children are brought up in a proper way.”

The coach recounts discovering Nayak’s talent, “The boy is a talented player and we spotted him when he was very young. He has been training with us for the last three to four years. In the last year, we have taken him from some very rigorous training and used modules which we see in international clubs and it has paid us rich dividends.

“When he was selected in Odisha, he was the youngest. The selection criteria says that the age should be between 14 to 16 and being an 11-year-old kid he was not allowed but we asked them to give him a chance, he surprised everyone.”

The best coaches will be training with the 120 players from around the world in Munich, Nayak’s journey is hoped to inspire slum children who also play football. Messi has a similar backstory growing up in an underprivileged area in Argentina before being scouted by Barcelona at age seven.

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