Talented goalkeeper renews contract with SC Furstenfeldbruck in Munich
BY RATTAN MALL
(Pratap Sandhu All photos by Inderjit of A-Master Media)
PRATAP Sandhu was playing soccer on the street when coach Lamber Dulay spotted talent in the 12-year-old and selected him for a local Akal FC team.
And it wasn’t long before Dr. Wayne Baker of Surrey United decided to take him under his wings.
“He used to pick me up and drop me off. He pretty much kept me as his son. Whatever I needed, he’d give it to me,” recalls 18-year-old Pratap.
When others hesitated to be the goalkeeper, Pratap was not afraid to take up the challenge.
“I was the only guy willing to play net. I must have made the most mistakes, but I kept getting better,” he modestly relates.
Two years later, Pratap was asked to participate in an invitational camp in Burnaby and ended up being selected for the prestigious National Training Centre at Richmond.
In 2011, he was selected to play for a U17 team that toured New Zealand, where they won one game and lost another, and Fiji, where the team remained undefeated. The team was organized by Sudesh Dayal and it gave Pratap valuable international experience.
That same year, Pratap made it to Fusion FC in the BC Soccer Premier League (BCSPL). But he was looking for bigger challenges and contacted coach Dylan Hughes, a Canadian who had moved to Germany when he was a teenager.
“I wanted to play in Europe and make it to the professional level,” he says.
He discussed it with his coach who had worked overseas and winged it to Munich for a week-long trial last August.
“Five of us from B.C. were called back,” says Pratap, who returned to Munich in January as part of the U19 team of SC Furstenfeldbruck, a German Association Football Club.
The very fact that Pratap’s contract has just been renewed for another year – he’ll be back in Munich next month – speaks eloquently about his performance and potential. He says his goal is to make his way up the divisions to the first team of SC Furstenfeldbruck.
He says he feels very much at home in Munich because the club looks after all the players’ needs and he really relishes the Italian meals they prepare for them.
He has also been taking German language classes with a private teacher for six to seven hours a week and feels pretty confident about his German.
PRATAP is multi-talented. At the age of 15, he was on the provincial hockey team that went on to win bronze at the nationals in 2010. He was one of the three captains of that team.
He says that his experience in hockey along with that in basketball and track and field helped him in his soccer performance.
He was Athlete of the Year at school for three years in a row and received two athletic scholarships.
An honours student throughout his high school years, Pratap graduated a semester early and says he’s really grateful to his teacher Par Bains at Tamanawis Secondary School for all his help.
Pratap is also thankful to local coach Raj Mattu. “He has been by my side since I was 13, helping me with soccer and life in general,” he says.
Pratap says his biggest supporters are dad Jas Sandhu, a prominent businessman who owns Prabu Sweets, and mom Varinder (“Lalli”), along with sister Erin, brother Amar and sister-in-law Amrita, who grew up with the three siblings.
He credits his mom with sparking his interest in sports at a very young age. She was on the Indian national team in volleyball and that too at a time when it wasn’t really common for women to participate in sports, he notes.
Pratap, who came across as a down-to-earth guy, has a clear vision of what he wants to do in the future. He plans to continue with professional soccer as long as possible; then return home to try and get a scholarship to study business at SFU and help with his family business. He also intends to carry on playing soccer and stays in touch with several coaches here.
Indeed, Pratap is an outstanding role model for South Asian kids.