Gurjinder Kumar is a product of India’s best football academy, a graduate straight from the esteemed Tata Football Academy (TFA).
This left back though, also has a strong footballing pedigree to back that up. His father, Gurpal Chand, who played for many years for Punjab, wanted the tradition to continue in the family but it took a tragedy for the focus to shift towards Gurjinder.
His elder brother, whom his father was grooming, passed away when he was 10 and it was then that the Punjabi lad started playing football more seriously. From 2001-07, he lived and breathed football at the Chandigarh Football Academy under coaches Harjinder Singh and Shahji Prabhakaran. He also attended an India Under-19 camp. After Chandigarh FA, he attended the Tata Football Academy (TFA) trials and was directly taken in for the seniors.
The years at TFA really shaped Gurjinder as a footballer and has made him the player he is today; both physically and mentally. Under TFA coaches Ranjan Choudhary and P Bijaykumar, his game gained poise and his confidence increased immensely.
He brings some serious skills to the field apart from the fresh legs. He can attack and defend, a mind-set so crucial for someone playing left back. He is not afraid to move up front and fancies his free kicks. Freewheeling overlapping runs on the side, thanks to his unrestricted attitude is quite an asset that Pune FC has literally.
Gurjinder’s commitment and dedication have been evident as he has established himself as a regular starter and has been at the club for three full seasons now.
Season after season, Kumar has now developed a habit for winning accolades and recognition as he has won an award in every season at Pune FC till date.
In his first season, Gurjinder was voted Pune FC’s Best U-23 Player of the Year 2010-11. In the 2011-12 season, his strike against Chirag United Kerala during the Round-3 game at home was adjudged as the ‘Pune FC Goal of the Year’. In 2012-13, the defender again won the Ashok Piramal Group ‘Young Player of the Year’ award due to his glowing performances.
Kumar’s leisure pursuits include listening to music, playing FIFA, talking to his folks back home and he also has a fondness for cooking. However, its football that is his life and the long term plan is to play and be a regular for the India senior time in due time. He incidentally did manage that when he made his debut against Qatar in the 2012 pre-Olympic qualifiers.
Subsequently, he earned his maiden India national camp call-up for the AFC Challenge Cup. In the run-up to the tournament, he made his senior debut against Oman and has also played against Azerbaijan. Gurjinder or Sunny, as he is fondly known, also played all 3 matches in the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers and was also selected in the preparatory squad for the SAFF Cup in Nepal.
The other highs achieved at Pune FC include figuring in both exhibition games against Blackburn Rovers (at Pune; 7th October, 2011) and FC Bayern Munich (At New Delhi; 10th January, 2012)
Gurjinder Kumar, who is a big fan of Serbian international Nemanja Vidic and Manchester United, has his feet placed firmly on the ground and is willing to take things one step at a time. Satisfied to make it to pro level and don the national colours so far, his real achievement is helping his father to live his dream through his son’s career!