From ball boy to Jamshedpur FC, Aniket Jadhav lives the dream

It was not long ago that a 14-year-old Aniket Jadhav was passing balls to the likes of Pritam Kotal and Lenny Rodrigues in the inaugural edition of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) at the Balewadi Stadium (Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium) in Pune. Six seasons later, Aniket is going toe-to-toe with them in his first season of the competition with Jamshedpur FC.

Last Tuesday, the Kolhapur-born youngster, who shot to fame after he was selected for India’s 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup team in 2017, made his dream debut in the Hero ISL when he started for Jamshedpur FC against Odisha FC at the JRD Tata Sports Complex, Jamshedpur.

“To be honest, I was very excited to join the Jamshedpur FC team for my first Hero ISL season. I am looking forward to the season,” said the 19-year-old, who, after the U-17 World Cup, followed his development in the Hero I-League with Indian Arrows.

Opening up on why he chose Jamshedpur FC, Aniket said, “When I was young, I used to follow the likes of Subrata Paul and Steven Dias (assistant coach at Jamshedpur FC). I actually used to be a ball-boy for the Hero ISL during the first two seasons in the games at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune. I spoke to five-six senior players before signing for Jamshedpur and all spoke highly of the facilities and the team culture here.” 

Aniket spent a good three months training at English club Blackburn Rovers during the close season, gaining invaluable experience which he plans on putting to use in the Hero ISL 2019-20 term. “It was a good exposure trip for me. I learnt a lot as a professional football player. There was so much knowledge to soak in from the coaches and the players at Blackburn Rovers. Surely, I would be able to put my learnings to use in this Hero ISL,” said Aniket, who was snapped up by Jamshedpur FC the previous season before being loaned out to Arrows once again.

The 19-year-old forward surely knew that the road to becoming a first team regular in a star-studded Jamshedpur line-up won’t be a walk in the park, but with the shift he put on against Odisha minutes on his debut, he certainly did put down a brave claim for the same.

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