A student of Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools (BBFS) for more than 4 years (2012-2016), Kshitij Kumar Singh has been selected to represent U15 academy team of NEC Nijmegen (Dutch Eerste Divisie club) after appearing for a trial with the Club setup earlier this month.
Hailing from Noida, Kshitij Kumar was identified by the then head coach of BBFS – Jose Tavares at the age of 8 years when he was training at the BBFS grassroots training center in Noida back in 2012. Kshitij was recommended to join the BBFS Development Squad in the U10 age group – these squads consists of top performing players across several grassroots centers across Delhi and NCR region. Notably, he was the youngest player to be selected in the U10 team.
Recalling the contribution of BBFS, Kshitij’s father – Harish Kumar Singh, who relocated to Europe to give a chance to Kshitij to play in one of the European academies - appreciated the foundation laid by BBFS “Kshitij from his childhood had a drive & passion towards the game. He started playing football at age of 6. He joined BBFS – a professional Football School at age of 8 years & was practicing, participating in national & international tournaments in the Development Squad. At BBFS his foundation was laid as a soccer player. Their International tournaments let him understand the level at European Clubs which made him to work even harder. Later he got selected in RFYC Academy and further got the opportunity to give trials in Top Level European clubs & was selected by NEC Nijmegen, Netherlands. In future he wishes to play for his country.”
Bhaichung Bhutia – former Indian Captain & the founder of BBFS – congratulated Kshitij and his family for the amazing achievement. He said “It is moments like these which showcase how rapidly Indian football is growing and in the right direction. We are confident Kshitij will represent the Indian national team one day and make the entire country proud”. He thanked the coaches for their continuous hard work over the years.
Kshitij with Bhaichung Bhutia at BBFS Event
Kshitij with BBFS Development Squads
After joining the BBFS Development Squads in 2012 – Kshitij quickly progressed within the squad to become one of the most influential players in the U10 age group across Delhi. His early years were spent majorly with the Head Coach of BBFS Jose Tavares (UEFA B licensed resident coach from Portugal) and Anup Singh (AFC A licensed coach with BBFS) focusing on refining his technical skills making him the most valuable player in the biggest amateur league played across Delhi in 2013.
Over the next 2 years – Kshitij progressed with the BBFS Development Squad – winning almost all competitions across Delhi and in the domestic circuit and also becoming the most valuable player in the 2014 & 2015 season and becoming the top scorer as well in 2015.
Weaving his way through the domestic circuit, Kshitij was performing at the pinnacle with convincing performances in tournaments like Garhwal Youth Cup, where he was also adjudged the player of the tournament and Bhaichung Bhutia Champions Cup.
Kshitij with BBFS Resident Portuguese coach Jose Tavares
Kshitij with BBFS U10 Development Squad (2013) & U11 (2014) with coach Anup Singh
Kshitij’s grassroots coach for almost 4 years – Anup Singh (AFC A licensed coach with BBFS) feels it is our (as Indian coaches) duty to work with prodigies like Kshitij, he mentioned "During the initial stage of Kshitij's training with BBFS, we were able to identify that this boy has special talent specifically looking at his dribbling skills and never give up attitude and we felt it was our responsibility to work on his ability and make him an international star"
Stevie Grieve (UEFA A licensed coach and former BBFS Technical Director & TV Pundit with Ten Sports) feels that Kshitij can definitely become the first Indian to play in a top division in one of the premier European Leagues. He added “Kshitij had the determination to do well from the 1st day I met him at BBFS, and deserves everything that comes his way. A kid with a great personality and attitude to training, his ability to find a way to score or create a goal from nothing stood him apart from most young players. I would wish him good luck but I doubt he will need it; if his personality and talent are developed further in Holland, I can see him being the 1st big Indian player in Europe.
First Dutch experience 2013 (Feyenoord Camp & Venlo Cup)
Kshitij was part of the U11 BBFS squad which travelled to Holland to participated in Venlo Youth Tournament where he played with BBFS against the likes of Borussia Dortmund Academy Squads; further he also attended a week long training camp at Varkenood (Feyenoord Rotterdam academy). His first international footballing experience set a target for him to achieve in future.
Second Holland visit 2015 (Feyenoord Camp & North Limburg Cup)
Kshitij visited the Feyenoord Academy again in 2015 with the intention to leave a strong impact on the U13 Academy coach at Feyenoord Rotterdam. BBFS participated in the North Limburg Cup where finished the tournament by clinching the Plate and this tournament saw the best performance from Kshitij at an international stage.
Theatre of dreams
An opportunity of a lifetime saw Kshitij representing India at the first ever ‘Meet our starting XI’ program by Chevrolet upon the recommendation of Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools. He walked on the Old Trafford pitch with the Manchester United starting XI against Swansea in the English Premier League season opener. Kshitij also trained at the Manchester United Academy during the tour.
In 2016, Kshitij was selected among top 20 students (selected from over 25,000 students across India) by Reliance Foundation under their Young Champs residential football academy program. Later with the support of the coaching staff – Kshitij got the opportunity to give a trial with NEC Nijmegen earlier in 2017 and was selected to be a part of the NEC Nijmegen U15 Academy team for the season 2017-18.
Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools is India’s largest football training program with 25 training centers across Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chandigarh and Dehradun with over 1300 active students and a team of 130 qualified football coaches.
BBFS has been nurturing young talented players like Kshitij for over 7 years with the aim of providing the right technical knowhow and the exposure for these trainees to become professional players. In the last 5 years – BBFS has already produced 4 India players (in the U16, U17 and U19 age groups) with 15 professional players (playing in the ISL or I-league) and over 150 national level players across India.
BBFS is a 3-Star Rated Academy by the All India Football Foundation which is among the highest in the non-residential academy category. Historically, BBFS was rated the highest in the country for having a structured technical curriculum and a strong coach education system having trained over 500 coaches in the last 7 years and assisting the AIFF in preparing the D-license and grassroots coaching manual. For more info – please log on to www.bbfootballschools.com
Images from the NEC Nijmegen Academy U15 matches