July 12, 2021

Indian Super League side Hyderabad FC have completed the signing of Spanish player Eduardo ‘Edu’ Garcia, the club announced on Monday. The experienced offensive midfielder, who can operate in multiple roles, joins Manolo Marquez’s side from last-season’s runners-up ATK Mohun Bagan.

“I am very excited to start my journey with Hyderabad FC. I promise to give my best and help the club grow with my experience and my work,” said Garcia after penning a one-year deal with Hyderabad FC.

“I want HFC to finish as high as possible on the table, and will work hard for that. I will also always try to help the team by giving what the coach wants from me,” he added.

Born in Zaragoza, Spain, Garcia spent three seasons with the Real Zaragoza’s B side before going on to represent the senior side in the 2016-17 season of the Spanish Segunda Division. He moved to India for the first time with Bengaluru FC in 2017, making 14 appearances in the ISL before joining Chinese side Zhejiang Greentown who paid a transfer fee to secure his signature.

He returned to India with ATK FC in January 2018 and helped the Kolkata-based side to the ISL title in 2019-20 scoring in the final against Chennaiyin FC. Garcia spent the 2020-21 ISL season with Antonio Lopez’s ATK Mohun Bagan and helped his side as they narrowly finished second in the league, and made it to ISL Final.

During his time in the Indian Super League, Garcia has made a total of 47 appearances netting 10 goals while providing 12 assists. The Spaniard brings valuable experience to the young side under Manolo Marquez who believes that Garcia’s versatility would help the team. “Edu (Garcia) is a good player and such players are always important. He has lots of experience of playing in India and will certainly help the youngsters in the squad,” said Manolo.

“He can play in centre midfield, attacking midfield and on the wings too. His versatility will be a huge asset for the squad. I am sure he will be comfortable with the group,” added Manolo.

Edu Garcia becomes the second new overseas player this season at Hyderabad FC, and the fourth new arrival after Aaren D’Silva, Abdul Rabeeh and Nigerian striker Bartholomew Ogbeche.

As the Indian Shooting Para Sport team undergoes their final preparation at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting ranges here, national chief coach J.P. Nautiyal said the team is capable of winning at least four medals at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games set to start next month.

Nautiyal, who is overseeing the preparation of the team along with national coach Subhash Rana, believes that the several members in the team have good temperament to excel in the finals.

“It’s a balanced team with young and senior players and many of them are coming out with excellent scores in the training that has been ongoing since last month. It has been a great journey for the entire team who have shown great results in the last few years. Many of them also have good temperament to pull off good results in the finals,” Nautiyal told the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).

“Everyone is working very hard and staying focused. And I am confident that they will produce good results. I am expecting at least four medals including gold from the team,” said the Shooting Technical Committee (STC) president, who is one of the figures behind the rise of Indian Shooting Sport in the past few years.

In a first, a record 10 para shooters including top pistol shooters Singhraj and Manish Narwal have been named for the Tokyo 2020 Games by the Paralympic Committee of India.

This is the first time that 10 para shooters have achieved the required benchmark for the qualification.  At Rio 2016 Paralympics, only one shooter – Naresh Sharma – had attained the qualifying berth in rifle events.

The 10-member team is currently undergoing six hours training every day that includes physical and mental training, live shooting, dry firing, strengthening and stretching at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting ranges.

Nautiyal pointed out that the Indian team will face challenges from teams like Iran, Ukraine, China, Slovakia and Russia.

“A lot of countries have been doing very well in the recent past, especially Ukraine and Russia. Tokyo 2020 will definitely be challenging. But my biggest worry is keeping the team safe and healthy in this Covid-19 situation. A lot of factors including mental strength will play an important role on the day.”

PCI president praises Indian shooters’ hard work

Meanwhile, PCI President Dr. Deepa Malik was delighted at the selection of the Para Shooters, especially with the selection of two women shooters.

“Rubina Francis has qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics with a World Record while Avani Lekhara has qualified for all four wheelchair shooting events which is a great achievement. It’s a great achievement and a result of hard work of the coaches and the shooters,” said Dr. Malik, a silver medallist at Rio 2016.

National Shooting coach Subhash Rana added, “Contribution of JP Nautiyal, our head coach, is enormous. It was tough during the period of Covid to keep the spirit of the shooters. But we kept giving them mental tasks to achieve and kept the momentum going through virtual conferences and the results at Lima show that we are on the right track.”

Deepak Sharma, CWG medalist, too was part of the selection committee and was excited at the progress that the shooters made. “It is no mean achievement and we are hopeful for a rich haul of medals,” said Deepak.

PCI has also sent three names to IPC under Bipartite Entry System for consideration.

The Final list:

Men’s event: Manish Narwal (P1, P4), Singhraj (P1, P4), Deepender Singh (P1), Deepak (R1, R6, R7), Sidhartha Babu (R3, R6), Swaroop Mahavir Unhalkar (R1), Akash (P3, P4), Rahul Jakhar (P3)

Women’s event: Avani Lekhara (R2, R3, R6, R8), Rubina Francis (P2)

MC Mary Kom

Sports brand PUMA has signed 18 Indian athletes who will represent the country in national and international events across sporting disciplines like shooting, hockey, track and field, boxing, table tennis, discus throw and badminton. It’s a major step for the brand as it continues to push boundaries and celebrate diversity in sports. Through its brand campaign ‘Only See Great’, PUMA aims to explore the very idea of achieving greatness and how these athletes have strived for it during extraordinary times.

Pooja Rani

With an aim to bring about a mindset transformation towards equality in sports, the brand is focused on supporting talent across multiple sporting disciplines. In addition to ace boxing champion, Mary Kom and Indian national sprinter, Dutee Chand, the brand has signed a bevy of bighitters like boxer Pooja Rani; track and field athlete Tejinder Singh; shooter Manu Bhaker; swimmer Srihari Nataraj; hockey players Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh, Gurjant Singh, Savita Punia, Sushila Chanu, Navneet Kaur, Navjot Kaur, Vandana Katariya, Gurjit Kaur and Udita Duhan. The list also includespara-athletes like shooter Avani Lekhara; table tennis champ Bhavina Patel anddiscus throw athlete Ekta Bhayan.

Hockey players

“We are thrilled and honored to sign some of the country’s finest athletes. As they continue to lead the way with their strength and athleticism, it’s equally important to work with them to break down barriers on the field of play.  As a brand, we strongly believe that being unique is a great strength and our unwavering commitment to inclusivity in sports is testament to this,” said Abhishek Ganguly, Managing Director, PUMA India & Southeast Asia. “Our athletes have time and again proven their mettle. I am sure with their grit and determination they will continue to outperform themselves. I wish them good luck in their pursuit to achieve greatness and make our country proud,” he added.

With their eyes set on the challenge, each athlete will be showcasing their prowess as they set out to achieve their own moment of greatness in sport. PUMA’s ‘Only See Great’ campaign puts the spotlight on them as they strive for greatness, listening to their hearts, and finding a vision that no one else can see.

Mary Kom said, “I have been associated with PUMA for over two years now and I am proud of the fact that the brand has always been at the forefront of encouraging the spirit of sports. For any athlete, grit, passion and hard work are the key ingredients to success. My boxing journey has not been that easy, but with years of practice, hard work and determination, I achieved the improbable. I am glad to represent India in the international sports circuit after such a long time.”

Dutee Chand added, “PUMA was my very first brand association and will always be very close to my heart. I’m thrilled and proud to see the brand encourage athletes across sporting fields and support them in their journey to achieve greatness. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, I believe that my hard work has brought me closer to my goal. My single focused aim is to win more laurels for the country in national and international sporting events.”

Commenting on the association, Ekta Bhayan said, “Everybody has the right to dream, don’t let disability define you. I hope my sporting journey sets an example for others that nothing can stop them. I am so thrilled to be associated with PUMA at this juncture in my sporting career. It’s great to see the brand continuing to break stereotypes and champion inclusivity in sports.”