US soccer starlet traces roots to state


Thiruvananthapuram: Vardhin Manoj, a 14-year-old American striker, who currently plays for Manchester Elite Academy in the U.K. for Under -15 team and is coached by former Manchester United player William Garton, traces his roots to the capital city.
Vardhin is the first Indian-origin soccer player ever to reach this level in the U.S. and will make history if, as expected, he makes it to the U.S. national soccer team.
Vardhin, who has already played against Spanish football club Real Madrid, Dutch football club Ajax based in Amsterdam, and other regional tournaments in Nevada and Arizona, is intent on playing for the US national soccer team.
He and his parents, Manoj Prasad and Lakshmy Manoj (both of them in the U.S. for over  two decades), are on a three-week holiday to his maternal grandparents’ home at Kaithamukku in the city. Though born and brought up in San Diego in California, the ninth-grader speaks Malayalam well, thanks to grandparents Ulloor P. Gopi and Ragini.
“I have been playing soccer since I was four years old when my dad Manoj took me to a football match. I just got hooked  to the game and my dream is to get into the U.S. national  team. Also, I wish  to don the blue jersey of the British football club Chelsea,”  said Vardhin who also would love to don the Indian ‘blue jersey.’
A ninth-grader of La Costa Canyon High School in San Diego, Vardhin, whose nick name is Shambhu, considers Brazilian footballer Ronaldo as his role model. This five-feet 10-inch-tall lad has excelled in studies too and his aim is to pursue business administration from Stanford University, California.

Vardhin, who visits India every two years, feels that the root cause of the Indian soccer team’s failure is that they always rush to pass the goal unlike the US soccer team.
“They wait for the right time to pass the goal as one need to wait. Or else it will be a huge failure,”  added Vardhin, who has been coached under the famous British footballer Paul Schloes, who played for Manchester United.
His dad Manoj, vice-president of Information Technologies, and mother Lakshmy, Software Manager with Viasat, and younger brother, Vismay Manoj, 9, have been  supporting Vardhin in his soccer pursuit.  Vismay  is a  midfielder  for Under-10 team in the US.


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