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I want to represent India: Namdhari FC defender Saurabh Bhanwala

Published at :June 8, 2024 at 4:28 PM
Modified at :June 8, 2024 at 4:28 PM
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Atawaris Warsi

Saurabh Bhanwala also mentioned about his achievemtnts and learnings from Namdhari FC.

Saurabh Bhanwala, the 24-year-old defender, had an outstanding season for Namdhari FC in the recently-concluded I-League despite the club’s overall performance not meeting expectations. Known for his towering presence and crucial tackles, Bhanwala was a pivotal figure in Namdhari’s strong defensive setup, which was exclusively composed of Indian players. 

His commanding presence in the backline played a significant role in the club’s impressive start to the season. Saurabh’s future hangs in the balance, but his performances have undoubtedly caught the attention of many. Khel Now got the chance to conduct an exclusive interview with the defender:

Selecting Namdhari

Namdhari are a young club in the I-League and when asked why he opted for them, Bhanwala replied, “I saw the setup and coaches, especially Harpreet coach who himself was a centre-back and has played at a good level. So, I thought this would be a great club and I would get so much to learn under him.

“The things I heard about Namdhari were all good. That it was a professional, new club and that too from North India, so I was excited to join. The local fans are very supportive.”

All-Indian defence

Namdhari’s defence was quite impressive, as it was a whole Indian defence. Jaspreet Singh, the club’s goalkeeper in an exclusive chat with Khel Now, expressed positivity in the same and also quoted that they were one of the strongest backlines in I-League 2023-24.

Saurabh too felt the same, as he highlighted, “My views are also the same. I also think our defence might have been the strongest. There are several improvements to be made in our team, but we were very good. Playing with a comparatively young squad, we did well in the I-League.”

Also Read: Jaspreet Singh interview

Focusing on young players

The club focused more on giving opportunities to young players who came through the ranks. When questioned whether Namdhari had reached their target for the same, the defender said, “Surely. I too think several young players got a chance to represent themselves and they are growing.

“Our performances from the first match as compared to the last match saw growth, especially those young players who debuted. I think Namdhari will be ready for next season. The club did achieve its goal.”

Personal Growth

Saurabh Bhanwala was quite a stern defender and provided much-needed composure to Namdhari. He put up great numbers, but also acknowledged the help from his teammates. “It was motivating. Plus, I like challenges.

“So, playing with an all Indian defence and young players in our team we could do better. I always thought that we have to be consistent in our performance. My focus was to give my best.”

Relationship with players

Bhanwala also highlighted his relationship with each member of his team. “Relationship was good. I loved the environment inside the club. Everyone was like brothers.

“We were all a family, the management, coaches, physios, everyone. We used to win together, we used to lose together. We also learnt a lot. We had senior players from whom we learned a lot. Everyone used to support each other.”

Key takeaways from season

He also highlighted the key takeaways from the season. “Focus and consistency is the main thing for every match, for every league. If you are consistent you can do better, for example, Mohammedan SC.

“The biggest takeaway is to be focused and consistent for the next season. If you are consistent, the results will be in your favour.”

Will Namdhari compete in ISL shortly?

When quizzed whether Namdhari will compete in the ISL soon, Saurabh assured, “Yes it’s surely possible. They have good plans and they are a good club. Even the management thinks of the same. They plan to come to ISL at some moment.”

Should I-League have more teams?

There is an argument that leagues below the ISL need to have more teams. Saurabh too agreed with the same, as he replied, “Yes, I too feel the same. The main difference between a foreigner and an Indian is that. In foreign leagues we have 30, 35 and 45 matches a season and in India hardly 20, 22, 24.

“I think to come to that level and to improve we need to increase the number of matches to 35 or 40. It is not possible to reach that level without this. Our Indian team’s performance will also improve if we do that.”

Long-term & short-term goals

Saurabh also explained his long-term and short-term goals and mentioned, “I want to represent India, that’s my long-term goal. As for my short-term goals, I have to do better than this season.”

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