Indian Football

Minerva Academy U-12 side beat Barcelona, Man City to lift the Mina Cup

Arjun Singh Devgan
Indian clubs were dominant at the under-12 Mina Cup
Indian clubs were dominant at the under-12 Mina Cup / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Minerva Punjab's U-12 team came up with incredible performances on their way to claim the Mina Cup title in Dubai.

The first Mina youth football tournament took place recently which saw a number of top sides from around the world take part in the competition, including the likes of Barcelona, Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Despite some of the players involved being hand-picked and coached by Real Madrid legend, Michel Salgado, it was Minerva Academy from India’s Punjab region who were the most dominant side in the tournament.

The Under-12 Minerva Academy side won the tournament after beating Dubai-based La Liga Academy 4-0 in the final on Monday and what was even more impressive was that they did not concede a single goal throughout their run to the title.

“I cannot believe we have won a tournament involving Barca, La Liga, Man City – it doesn’t feel like real life. This is my first time outside India. When we were leaving, I was feeling nervous and excited that I was going outside our country and playing for our nation," Yoihenba Khwairakpam who is Minerva's goalkeeper said.

“We have the India flag on our shirt and we feel like we are representing our country as well as our academy.”

The total cost of the entire trip cost the academy around $30,000, with a crowd funding campaign bringing in $1,000 while the academy directory, Ranjit Bajaj paid for the remaining cost.

“The only difference between us and the other teams is these guys are on 100 per cent scholarships. They don’t pay even one single rupee. We take care of their food, stay and education. That is my personal dream," Bajaj said as quoted by National Sport.

“It is about getting India to the World Cup in 2034. It is a 15-year plan, and it is two years old. All the money I earn from my business, I put in here. There is no profit coming in. But hopefully one of these guys will be the next Mohamed Salah," he added.