NFL calling for Raju Haldankar

Haldankar won the Million Dollar Kick', a talent hunt launched by National Football League to find the best 'kicker' in the country.


Raju Haldankar will be going to the United States to train in an NFL training camp.   -  Special Arrangement

Raju Vasudev Haldankar was a typical 22-year-old Goan who enjoyed playing football. He had even represented Salgaocar FC.

But American football was never a part of even his wildest dreams. “I had no idea about American football, it looked like rugby and I had only seen it in Hollywood movies." he says.

Haldankar himself reluctantly taking part in the Goa leg of ‘Million Dollar Kick’ — a talent hunt programme conducted by the National Football League to find the best 'kicker' in the country — at the insistence of former Indian footballer Climax Lawrence and ended up winning the National Finals at the Siri Fort Sports Complex with a neat 55-yard kick.

He received a cash prize of US $5,000 and would be going to the United States to train in a proper NFL training camp. "My first reaction when I heard about the competition was that 'I’m a footballer'. I never saw any opportunity and only got serious when I reached the finals,” he says.

The Goan says he might consider switching to American football if he excels in it. “If I get along and am able to make a good career then I will switch.”

He has never flown on an airplane and is quite excited about going to the U.S. “It feels amazing, it’s a very big thing for my family and friends. They’re very proud of me. Now, I will be representing India and it will be amazing,” he says.

Raju's preparations for the big day have already started, “I am learning about it (American Football), I am watching videos on Youtube. I know it’s physically very tough and different to football. Expectations are high, people believe in me so I can just hope for the best,” he says before signing off.