The 18-year-old has scored three goals in the ongoing I-League campaign in Kolkata…
As part of our NxGn India series, Goal takes a closer look at the most promising young talents in the country.
Next up on this feature is the talented Indian Arrows midfielder Harsh Patre who is starting to make a name for himself and is being considered one of the most promising players in the country.
Harsh Patre began his football with professional grassroots training at the Goa Football Development Council’s (GFDC) Mayem center in 2013. He played in GFDC Rising Stars Football Festival – first of a kind grassroots league in India and then selected for a three-year GFDC Residential Academy program in 2016.
His fantastic display during his time at the academy won him laurels such as the Subroto Cup in Goa on two ocassions while playing for Holy Spirit School in the U-14 and U-17 categories. At club level, before joining the Indian Arrows, Patre won the Goa Zone in the U-15 I-League qualifiers for two successive seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19 while representing Churchill Brothers.
How it all began for Harsh
“I started playing football when I was seven or eight years old, and started training (professionally) for the first time at a GFDC centre near my house. The first time I represented Goa was at the U-14 level and had the opportunity to captain the team. I was also the youngest player in the team at that time,” the Goan who hails from Bicholim narrated to Goal.
Despite helping Churchill Brothers qualify for the U-15 I-League finals, Harsh wasn’t able to continue with the Goan club as an opportunity at the national team set-up was beckoning him. He was selected on his second attempt.
“I gave the trials for the junior national team for the first time in 2017 but wasn’t selected. However, next time (the following year) I was among the players chosen and was part of the AIFF Academy set-up in Bhubaneswar (Odisha). I was there for one and a half years and learned a lot as a player during that time,” he recalled.
Enter the international stage
While at the AIFF Academy, Harsh participated in various domestic and international competitions and was also part of several exposure tours. He participated in the 2018 U-15 SAFF Championship in Nepal where he scored against Bangladesh from about 30 yards out. He was also part an exposure trip to UAE before partaking in the 2019 Future Champions Tournament in South Africa and in the same year went on another tour to Malaysia with the India Colts.
“The exposure we got was incredible and the chance to play against high-quality teams was amazing. The facilities we had in Bhubaneswar were top-class and we really grew as players during our time there and learned how to compete at a higher level,” Patre professed.
What’s next for Harsh?
Now at the Indian Arrows set-up in the I-League, the midfielder has set eyes on the teams preparations for the 2022 AFC U-19 Qualifiers. Harsh is known for his shots from distance, dead-ball deliveries and ball control in midfield.
“Harsh has a very good vision, creativity in passing and good reading of the game, Derryl D’souza (GFDC’s residential coach) once remarked.
This season, he has already scored against TRAU, though it came in a 5-1 loss and has also scored during the SAFF U15 championship.
The Arrows started their current season with an appearance in the 2020 IFA Shield where they were ousted from the group stage after a 1-1 draw against Southern Samity and a 0-2 loss to eventual finalists George Telegraph. In the ongoing I-League, the team has seven points from 12 games and have registered some impressive results.
It must be noted that this is an entire fresh batch of players with no prior experience against the big boys in the I-League. They have so far picked two wins – a 1-0 win over Mohammedan Sporting besides a 3-0 drubbing of NEROCA where Harsh scored a peach of a goal off a direct free-kick.
“I want to keep progressing from here. The Indian Arrows is a great platform for young players like me and I want to make the most of this opportunity. My ambition is to contribute for the team in the 2022 AFC U-19 Qualifiers that we are preparing for. Personally, I want to play for a top club in the near future and in the long run, fulfil my dream of playing for the senior national team,” Patre signed out.