The All Conquering Under 14 Intern:
Having already won the GFA – Under 14 Championship this season, for the second time running as well as securing qualification in the Hero Sub Junior League Goa Zone by topping the group undefeated, Coach Pradeep Chopdekar’s stock has been on the rise for some years now! ( If winning the Domestic League Two times running is not enough to boost your portfolio, then what is? )
Taking into account the constant selection of new boys and the need for starting from scratch at the Under-14 level, it’s the mentality that you instill in them, that is of the utmost importance in this age group.
This article is a look back at where it all began for the young coach and his journey to being a Champion with the Golden Eagles.
Pradip Chopdekar and Dempo Youth Development have gone hand in hand for some time now.
The current Eagles Under-14 coach is no outsider to the Dempo Youth setup, having played for the Dempo Under-16’s and 18’s as a young lad back in the day. The then promising youngster would go on to even have several stints for the state teams too, as his stock began to rise steadily as a player, something that has run parallel with his time as a coach, with the former Eagles youth player beginning to now turn heads on the other side of the technical spectrum!
Having joined the Eagles in the autumn of 2016, from GFDC, the then “2013 GFDC coach of the year” was designated as the then Head Coach of the Dempo Under 16’s on an interim basis, while the Academy team was in its early stages of formation. An assignment that would help him understand how the club functions and more importantly where he could function in the setup.
Once settled he was given an opportunity by the late Katz Naidoo to head the Eagles Under 14 team, with then Assistant Coach Sachin Gawas taking his side, and in that period of time since , the Chopdem native has taken to the post as if he was a seasoned veteran. Going from strength to strength.
Winning his 2nd Domestic League title in just 3 years and wrapping the Hero Sub Junior League qualifications by the month of February, he is truly on the cusp of doing something truly incredible with our young Goan boys, who have yet to taste defeat in the AIFF Youth League Competition, as they now begin their journey in the Final Phase of the competition!
With his side only conceding 4 times in the entire GFA under 14 league where they were crowned champions, it is easy to see how his defensive-minded personality as a player has been transmitted to his sides, Keeping position high up the park and attacking with venom, his sides are not one to park the bus and defend and with 47 goals being scored in just 10 games in his 2019-20 League triumph, the stats certainly back his attractive brand of football.
Having played professional football in the Goa Professional League and the Second Division I league, he has quite the experience on how to develop and allow players to progress through teams and an eye, that has seen the Eagles benefit from his ability to spot talent at the early stages, to allow the boys he scouts, time and resources to progress.
Not one to speak about his achievements and always hesitant to take applaud, the shy yet firm ‘AFC B License’ holder has always held that he is just “doing his internship”, always maintaining that he is just lucky to have such a dedicated team of technical staff and thanking his stars that he gets to learn from the already established coaches in the setup whom he considers his mentors in his self-proclaimed internship at the club.
In many ways, Pradeep Chopdekar’s time at Dempo Sports Club has just begun but in many ways, the local lad has already arrived. With his continuous thirst of knowledge and humility, it is easy to see, why many believe he is heading to the very top.