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

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.