Girik Khosla shares his journey from Matunga to Minerva Punjab

Girik Khosla’s rise to prominence with Punjab FC came after a series of learnings, struggles and perseverance. Growing in Sion East, Mumbai, Khosla was first introduced to the beautiful game when he was 6-year-old.

Watching his brother play football at school, Girik couldn’t resist joining him. Little was he aware that his fun days alongside his brother playing at the muddy fields would one day be converted into a stadium for thousands, and his brother would switch roles from being a teammate to a mentor in life.

As Girik would recall, his early days of enjoying football were at Don Bosco High School, Matunga. Girik and his schoolmates were a famous bunch. They had won several accolades in the age group school tournaments.

“Don Bosco will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s where it all began for me. We had been winning all the age group school tournaments. What encouraged me especially was going for the national tournaments to represent my school” – Girik Khosla

Girik started learning football under the guidance of his school team coaches – Leslie Machado and Mohan Pillai. Both Leslie and Mohan were able to instil the basics of football and made him fall in love with the game. But if we are talking about the journey to the top, as Girik says, it was Bimal Ghosh who taught him the true aspects of the beautiful game.

“Leslie Machado and Mohan Pillai taught me the techniques, the right way to play and fuelled my passion for the game. It was all fun back then. But the coach who helped me transform my dreams into reality in football was Bimal Ghosh. Bimal sir taught me the true aspects of football in professional life. I still cherish his teachings” – Girik Khosla

Girik’s time in Mumbai football started with Compeneros FC. Under the guidance of Sydney D’Souza, in his very first season, Compeneros won the Super Division and were promoted to the Elite Division – the top tier football league in Mumbai. After gaining momentum at Compeneros, Girik was further called to the Mumbai FC U-17 team. Khosla was bestowed with the captaincy there and was able to showcase his leadership abilities. Talking about the closure of the team, he lamented and explained how Mumbai FC had become an identity to Mumbaikars.

“Mumbai FC was the club which I was looking up to when I was a child. The shutting down of the club was a great loss to everyone in the Mumbai football fraternity” – Girik Khosla

He was a part of Punjab FC’s title-winning campaign in 2018. Punjab was the only team after JCT to lift the national league since the latter lifted the NFL back in 1997. Girik got a call-up from Ranjit Bajaj in 2016. During the 2015-16 season, Girik then plying his trade in Mumbai football, left his state team to represent Chandigarh in the Santosh Trophy. He proved to be an instrumental addition to the Chandigarh outfit and played a crucial role in their qualification to the next round. He ended up being the top scorer of that campaign. That is when Ranjit Bajaj took notice and how Girik puts it, was the breakthrough moment in his career.

“I was playing Santosh trophy from Chandigarh and had a great tournament there along with being a top scorer of the team and helping the team qualify after 19 years of participation in the Santosh trophy. That caught the attention of Ranjit Bajaj – the owner of Minerva Punjab FC. He had called me up and things moved gradually. He trusted me in the process and that’s how I made my debut for Minerva Punjab FC in the I – League” – Girik Khosla

Girik reminisced their title-winning campaign and claimed his time at Punjab to be a ”rollercoaster ride”. Speaking of Ranjit Bajaj, Girik claimed that he is more than just an owner of the team.

“Ranjit sir has been like a father figure to me. We all have difficult times in our lives. Last year I faced rejection and did not have any team signing me up. It was only then when Ranjit Sir once again confided and believed in me and got back my confidence. He was always the one who had trust in me and been so helpful for the players. He is always motivating and I can bet you won’t see a person like him with having so much passion for the game. He is my confidante” – Girik Khosla

Speaking about the current scenario of Mumbai football, Girik feels that the city holds a lot of potential. He described the need for Mumbai to have an I-League club so that the local players get more opportunities. He concluded by apprising that he still loves to play at his childhood ground whenever he gets time and is working hard to don the national jersey in the near future.

 


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