WHAT DOESN’T KILL US MAKES US STRONGER!”Ranjit Bajaj
This is the message from Ranjit Bajaj, the owner of Minerva Academy, to all the Indians suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps this is the motto of his life as well! The heartbeat of Minerva has lived an extraordinary life.
“Passion is something which overcomes so many things in life it’s unbelievable. All my success till now is all because of belief and passion.”
Ranjit Bajaj, an I-League Champion, and Asian record holder talks rather emotionally about his journey so far. Over the course of his life, Ranjit Bajaj has earned a long list of titles to his name but he is not done yet. After recently selling his club, Punjab FC (earlier known as Minerva Punjab FC), he aims to build from the grassroots moving up to the top flight, that is- from AIFF Youth League to ISL.
Even after giving so many interviews, Ranjit Bajaj talks about his odyssey with fervour. While narrating the fairy-tale story of Minerva Punjab FC, he recalls his struggling days with a hint of pain, “I did it with the system fighting against me and on top of that I had no money and fans.”
However, as the famous poet Khalil Gibran wrote in his book ‘The Prophet’, “Your Joy is your Sorrow unmasked. The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” Much to the success of Minerva Punjab FC and its players, Ranjit Bajaj describes his time as magical just like a dream from which he didn’t want to wake up. He hoped to live many such years with the club.
Life is never easy but for Ranjit Bajaj, it has been nothing less than a fanatical roller-coaster ride. To triumph in life one needs to have a strong mentality, Ranjit Bajaj credits Indian armed forces for making him mentally tough. He always tries to instil the same mind-set in his players, especially the younger ones.
Ranjit Bajaj attributes all his achievements till now to passion and belief. His relationship with Dynamos Ultras had kicked off and strengthened due to the same passion they share for the sport.
“I saw ultras who were passionate, something which I have. Passion is something that money cannot buy. I saw that passion, the same passion which I have for football, in them. That’s why I wanted to support them and I will keep supporting them.”
Ranjit Bajaj vividly remembers his first interaction with the Dynamos Ultras. The first time he met with Dynamos ultras was back in 2017 when Minerva Punjab FC was invited to play a pre-season friendly with Delhi Dynamos.
Ranjit Bajaj reminisces about the support he got from the Ultras during the title-winning season, “Ultras became my own family. They used to travel all the way from Delhi to Chandigarh to see our matches. They were there when we drew with Mohun Bagan for the first time. They were there when we lifted the I-League trophy. They celebrated and got drunk with us in the after-party.”
Delhi Dynamos shifted its base to Odisha after the 2018-19 Season. A shattered yet united Dynamos Ultras picked themselves up for a daunting challenge in the form of Delhi United FC. The thing to note here is the solidarity and commitment of the fan-group. Despite losing their club, they kept on working hard towards getting back in the league system.
A member of Dynamos Ultras, Manu Pratap Singh thanks the Maverick of Indian Football for his ever-present support and guidance, “The role of Ranjit Paaji in our new venture, cannot be put into words. Be it tactical guidance for our games, or total guidance about how to run a football club, he’s always been there for us.”
Ranjit Bajaj has a holistic way to look at success. He doesn’t really consider personal achievements as a success. According to him, true success is something which is much bigger than just himself.
Speaking on the legacy he says, “I-league title every year, every age group somebody will win. So that’s not legacy, that’s a matter of fact. Legacy is when you help India qualify for the World Cup for the first time. Legacy is when your boy scores the first-ever goal in a World Cup for India. Those kinds of things are true legacy!”
Ranjit Bajaj’s message to all young aspiring footballers is to dream big and believe in yourself because when you work hard towards something impossible you make it possible.