At first glance, 13-year-old Kent Joseph Mazuda could be mistaken for a quiet and shy boy. But, with a ball under his feet, the youngster from Thevara, is as good as anyone of his age in the country right now.
The youngster was called last week for Indian under-14 national football team’s training camp scheduled to be held later this month in Goa. If things turn out as expected, Kent would go on to represent India in their maiden appearance at the 2017 FIFA under-17 World Cup.
It was in 2010 that he began displaying a keen interest in the sport. Kent, then 10 years of age, would mug hours in front of the television set watching that year’s World Cup. Hence, his father decided to gift him a football and took him to a selection trial at the Maharaja’s College Stadium where Football Academy Cochin coach Alphonse Josy encouraged him to devote more time to the game. From then on, Kent’s career graph has soared. His meteoric rise over the last three years saw him represent the Ernakulam district under-14 team on three occasions, captaining them in their latest campaign. He was nurtured by K Gokulan at the Regional Sports Centre and K Ravindran at the Sacred Heart Football Academy before winning selection to Government Sports Hostel, Panampilly Nagar, where he trains with Baby Joshi now.
Kent also helped his school side, Sacred Heart HSS, Thevara, to reach the final of the regional phase of the Subroto Cup last year and also helped the Kerala state team reach the semi-final of the national under-14 championship at Kalyani, West Bengal, a couple of months ago.
In Kalyani, he was spotted by the selectors who were scouting for players ahead of the under-17 world cup picked him along with 26 others to attend a 10-day camp at the AIFF Regional Academy in Goa starting February 14. V A Narayana Menon is already impressed with what he has seen of the player.
“Kent was here last year during our selection trials. But he was too young to win a place in the academy. He is a very creative player and one we have earmarked already,” Menon said. “He is a player with immense natural talent and a bright future,” former Indian international C C Jacob, who has observed the player from close quarters, adds.
It was a World Cup that inspired him to take up football, now it is another World Cup that is driving him forward. “It is a dream for me to wear the Indian colours and I will be giving my level best,” Kent said.