BENGALURU FC ARE mixing up their pre-season by adopting unique, different strategies to help their younger players address particular aspects of their game and get better at them. Last year they attracted headlines by undertaking a pre-season tour of China ahead of their maiden ACL/AFC Cup campaing, and this summer they are stressing on the young, talented players they have signed on long term, who will go on to form the core of their team in the coming years.
Only weeks ago they sent their 19 year old striker Udanta Singh to train with English League Two side Oxford United. This time it's Shankar Sampingraj, the 20 year old local lad who has played both as a centre back and a defensive midfielder, who is being sent to Europe to train with a professional club. Shankar will be sent to Lega Pro/A (third tier) club Unione Sportiva Cremonese to train for about four weeks, according to a report published in the club's official website.
The report quoted BFC CEO Parth Jindal, who said the move comes as their strategy to take in young players and mould them to become players who take on crucial roles in the club and the national team in the future,
"Sending Shankar to Italy reiterates our stand in giving our boys the best chance to improve, be it at the club or outside of it. We went to watch Udanta at Oxford and from our conversations with him, he seems to have learned a great deal in a short time. We are certain that Shankar will have a similar experience at Cremonese."
After some short stints at HAL, Pailan Arrows and DSK Shivajians, Shankar finally found his right footing at Bengaluru FC during the 2014-15 season. He made 13 appearances for BFC in the league, scoring twice, which included the one against Pune FC, scored within 15 seconds of play, the fastest goal the I-League has seen till date.
He even made his presence felt in Asia, as he scored the only goal in Bengaluru FC's 2-1 defeat to Maziya away. He also made his debut for India Under-23 in March, against Uzbekistan U23 in the AFC U23 2016 Qualifiers. He was picked up by Kerala Blasters in the ISL Draft held in July.
Already a regular player for his club at 20, Shankar is one of the bright prospects pinned for a future national team role, and the exoposure he will get in Italy will surely help him start the season on the right foot, and get him physically and menatally ready for the intense, taxing bunch of matches awaiting him in the ISL.