From the Kickstart Academy to their first team, Vrishabh Kamath has come a long way
All of 22, Vrishabh dreams of playing in the ISL some day but for now, lifting the BDFA Super Division with Kickstart FC is what drives him to be the best version of himself.
For 22-year-old Vrishabh Kamath, football came late into his life but now, he has no intention of letting it leave any time soon. The youngster joined the Kickstart FC family a little more than three years ago after his mother told him about their academy and there has been no looking back since.
Although he had always been keenly interested in the sport, joining a professional set-up like Kickstart was the trigger that he needed to fall in love with football, again. "Before, I used to play with my schoolmates and in my neighbourhood but joining Kickstart made a huge difference in terms of the way I started viewing every aspect of the game", he states.
The recently concluded BDFA Super Division season didn't really go as per plan for the side and Vrishabh is the first one to admit that. "The last season was quite disappointing to be honest. We were playing to be champions but a few poor performances here and there meant that we finished fourth on the points table eventually," he says.
However, having mostly played for the reserves previously, this was the first time that he got to train and play with the senior side for a whole season and in his own words, he is a 'much better player because of it'. "Whenever I was given a chance, I gave my best. Even during training sessions and practice games, I tried to listen to the coaches instructions and adjust my game accordingly," says the central midfielder who idolizes Andres Iniesta. The enthusiasm in his voice when he says this further reaffirms that it is truly a 'dream come true' for him to play in the Super Division with Kickstart.
All of 22, Vrishabh is mature enough to understand that if he has to make it far in football, he has to be disciplined. Which is why getting up at 7 in the morning and travelling to the training venue in Kalyan Nagar, which is considerably far from where he stays, has never been a problem. "I know that I have to keep pushing hard and keep ensuring that I am fit and ready whenever my coaches need me. That is the reason why even after I'm back from training, I go to the gym, rest, then again go up to my terrace and just practice on my own," he explains with a sense of exuberance that is quite typical of the young lad. He also has gym equipment at home, something that has come in handy in the present pandemic situation.
Being at Kickstart has also helped him in keeping his focus solely on playing, while the club takes care of most things off the field, especially for outstation players. From something very basic like accommodation and food during tournaments and even after training sessions to exposure trips to countries like the Netherlands, Nepal and so forth, Vrishabh and his mates, some of whom are from other states and stay at the academy, have had the chance to soak in an environment that every good academy should have in our country but rarely does. This is one of the major reasons why he has his heart sent on continuing with the club for now.
So what, in his opinion, is the major difference between kids his age in Europe and those striving to make a career out of football in India? "I feel their physical advantage is something that we can't deny. But more than that, the mentality that they have developed in terms of being ready for important games and their decision-making are some of the aspects that make a difference. Of course, that comes from years of training and since they start young, they have that advantage over us," Vrishabh elaborates begrudgingly.
Joining in on the conversation, his mother Mrs. Sukanya Kamath reiterates the faith that the family has on the Kickstart project and the way the club is shaping up. "Initially we were a bit worried that he wanted to pursue football as a career, but then we realized that today every field comes with its own challenges and opportunities. At least this way, he will do something that he loves doing. Moreover, I trust the coaches and management at Kickstart completely and always say that the club is like his second home, which it really is considering how closely-knit everyone there is," she says with a twinkle in her eye.
But what about juggling academics and sports, has that ever been an issue? "Not really. Vrishabh is quite disciplined and knows how to manage both. I truly believe that if he has to make a career in football, it has to be now because players have a limited shelf life. He can always get a degree later and he is good in studies as well so that will hopefully not be a problem. For now, we want him to follow his passion," she cuts us off almost mid-question.
With his parents' support, an ever-improving team beside him and an environment that continues to foster a winning mentality on the pitch, Vrishabh feels that the Kickstart FC side are not that far off from doing incredible things. "We have a very young and talented team and I am confident that we will achieve the targets that we set out to achieve in the next few seasons. Hopefully, I will get to be a big part of that because I honestly want to give back to the club that ignited my passion for football in a way that nothing had done before," he says with drive and determination peeking through.
All we can say is, keep going Vrishabh, we can't wait to see what you achieve in the years to come.