Techtro Swades United is a name that recently went viral and became familiar at many places, while some are still unfamiliar and unaware about the name. Well, there must be a reason for the buzz they have created and we take a closer look at what is hidden behind the scenes of Techtro Swades United.
A club that started with a dream to unite Indian Football Fans, now makes its way into the top levels of Indian Football, starting with what’s next in the form of the I-League 2nd Division, early in 2023. No, they’re not corporate entrants but have fought hard to earn every bit of their place even after being denied initially last season, to finally qualify to the I-League 2nd Division, as the Invincible Champions of Himachal.
Invincible? Yes, Indeed. A Team who has a close relationship with success, trophies and dreams have taken all over the state of Himachal Pradesh and are now looking forward to make a name for themselves on the big stage.
Talking about Techtro, who else could have explained to us better about how it all started than the man himself, Neeraj Kholiya, the founder and owner of Techtro Swades United. Revelations, as we got to know from this young man that he was around 14 to 15 years old when he used to promote football through his youtube channel, where people started commenting and asking about ways to get a breakthrough which they weren’t finding even after playing at various levels. There took birth the idea, of what turned out to be a wonderful initiative in the form of Techtro Swades United.
Starting from the local level by giving a platform to the players around him, Techtro Swades United started their journey. Impressive enough to know that the owner himself used to play but as his words go he said, “I left playing football so they could play and that was one of the best decisions I made”. Sacrifices at the right time and with the right intentions, now in 2022, mean that around 30 of the local bunch of players will be playing at the National level with us, representing Techtro with pride in the National Futsal League, I-League 2nd division, and the Under 17 I-League.
Techtro Swades United have an impressive record in the State of Himachal Pradesh, and as previously mentioned about them being the invincible Champions, they now have a hattrick of State titles in 2022, and 4 overall titles in the State. Techtro Swades United are the State Champions of the Senior Men’s and Women’s League in Himachal, along with the Himachal Futsal League and the U17 Youth League.
On asking about the story behind the name and logo of the Team, Neeraj added “The name is all about fans getting United to start the club and since inception, we have people from West Bengal, Kerala, Lucknow, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and various other parts of the country coming together” and that “The whole idea was to Unite the Fans and start a football club where we can contribute something towards the betterment of Football in the Country”.
The journey so far has been really special for the club with so many trophies and success stories being written. “It makes me feel who we are, The Champions”, said Neeraj but he also mentioned, “Eventually the main idea is to develop the players and provide them a platform, which we luckily did and are gradually including more of Himachal talents in our squad so that local talents can also be nurtured.”
Techtro has been conducting Open Trials at various places and gradually increasing their reach across the country, and already have players from various parts of India. They have now become a dominating force in every tournament they play. “The Philosophy is Working, the Right people are with the Team and the Right fans are with us supporting us all the time and we in turn are and will continue bringing in more and more trophies to make the fans happy”, said Neeraj.
Goes without saying, there have been difficulties in their path as well but the attitude from the Owner says it all. “Difficulties are everywhere, but if you take them as challenges, you can Conquer that. DREAM BIG to ACHEIEVE BIG” is what he said and mentioned how one needs to be brave to dream and do everything step by step. Financial difficulties, administrational issues, and more difficulties will be constant in most cases but not giving up can be a key factor in succeeding in the long run.
Talking about Techtro, we often hear the name of one of the biggest footballer-producing academies of India, the Minerva Academy, and when asked about their links with Minerva, Neeraj said, “Minerva is one of the best things that happened to me”. Neeraj had the privilege to talk to Mr. Ranjit Bajaj, the founder of Minerva Academy, in 2019 when Ranjit Bajaj congratulated them on their performance in the Lucknow District League to much surprise, in a WhatsApp Fan Group, and luckily later they went on to discuss ways to run and take a football club to newer heights. “He is my mentor and my inspiration”, said Neeraj.
From learning how to run a football club to scouting players, Ranjit Bajaj has been a true Mentor for Neeraj and then in 2019 when Techtro went for a 7-day exposure trip to Minerva, Ranjit Bajaj was impressed by the players and suggested Neeraj to try and aim for I-League 2nd division. “When he said my players were good, I made up my mind that we will play I-League 2nd division one day and now it is going to be a reality”, said Neeraj.
Minerva has played a crucial role behind Techtro and Mr. Ranjit Bajaj has acted as the perfect guide one could have, guiding them in any circumstance whenever needed. The AFCAI Initiative by Mr. Ranjit Bajaj has also played a massive role in helping the club and not just Techtro but probably many other clubs associated with them.
With an Aim to Unite all Indian Football Fans with a common dream to promote Indian Football and see the Indian Football team at the World Cup someday, the Logo of Techtro Swades United consists of various elements from the National Emblem to the Himalayan Range and other aspects of the Indian Culture and was designed wonderfully Mr. Ayoob as stated by Neeraj.
On asking about the Role of HPFA, we learned how the Himachal Pradesh Football Association with the help of Mr. Deepak Sharma has always supported, inspired, and backed Techtro being the first professional club from Himachal, to do something great for Himachal Football and has played a crucial role in the success of the club.
One of the key reasons for selecting Himachal as a base was their Secretary, Mr. Deepak Sharma who was totally committed to training and developing football in Himachal selflessly, which inspired Neeraj to work with him unlike in contrast in the state of U.P, where politics was taking over with more interest in political powers than developing football, even at the cost of pushing down teams and suppressing one from growing. “Himachal people are already loving and supporting us, and we are already a force to Reckon with in Himachal Pradesh”, said Neeraj.
Techtro has not just been a mere club for Himachal but has also provided a platform for local talents, along with giving prodigies to Himachal like Mohit Sharma who was only playing in Himachal previously but now is the top scorer of Punjab League as well. Techtro is trying to nurture more home-grown talents from Himachal because they believe that Himachal and the Northern parts of India have plenty of talent hidden in the region.
It takes time to develop a fan culture and Techtro is already doing some good work in that aspect, as most of their activities and functioning are based on and for the Fans and the people following them are already loving what they’re doing with their style and brand of football. “We’re now creating local heroes like Hemant Thakur and Mohit, which is great to see for us as well as the fans”, said Neeraj and he went on to add that there were 7 players from Himachal in their Under 17 squad, and praised in plenty about the talent in Himachal Pradesh.
Coming to the topic of the moment with Techtro ready to play the I-League 2nd division it can be well said and confirmed by their owner that, Techtro Swades United might be a team with one of the lowest budgets, but will be a dark horse going into the tournament. Neeraj said, “We will be giving every team nightmares” and added a message further for everyone saying, “Do not take us lightly or casually, we are here to win the Championship and we might look different from outside but we are strong as a family from inside and it will be very hard for teams to break us down”. Neeraj ended his statement by saying that, “We will be going all out to win the Championship and Qualify for the I-League with a simple approach of being the Champions”.
Techtro Swades United is yet to start its preseason and is currently focusing on the Futsal Championships with an aim to become the first-ever club to be in the AFC Futsal Championships, also given that the dates of the I-League 2nd division aren’t announced yet. Techtro will begin its pre-season as soon as the dates are announced. They already have a core batch of players who are with them for the last 4 years and will be adding on or signing a few more players. Neeraj is confident about the squad they have right now and he believes that they will be giving not just tough but a harrowing time to the opponent teams in the 2nd division because the “Champions” will be playing against them this time.
Talking about the structure of the club, they are also associated with AFCAI and have a great scouting network providing tryout opportunities to any good talent under any clubs associated with AFCAI. Techtro also has its own Academy in Lucknow, and is trying to open up academies in Himachal Pradesh as well as other parts of the country, so that their Swades United Dream comes true one day. They haven’t been able to do much of it in the last 2 years because of the Pandemic but Neeraj is very sure about having a residential academy in the next 5 years.
“Our immediate next target is to win the I-League 2nd division”, says Neeraj and that will be a priority for them but above that he also wants Techtro to win the National Futsal Championships. They are in love with the word “First” and the “First” Professional club from Himachal, the “First” Champions of Himachal in Men’s, Women’s, and Under 17 Elite League and would love to be the “First” team from India to Qualify for the AFC Futsal Championships. Techtro is also looking forward to the Under 17 Elite League even though they didn’t get much time to prepare for it, given that so much is happening at the same time.
The journey has been hard and Neeraj believes that a single person might not be able to do wonders but together they can do a lot more. If people come together and fans can connect with us and we can work in coordination with each other, it will be possible to transform this club into more of a fan-owned football club, and hence the club will definitely grow and the fan base will also increase. “People do love us and we have Whatsapp groups where we connect to people directly and they also feel a part of it but I want more and more fans to connect with us. We will soon try to start a Fan-Ownership Model as well, for the Club”, said Neeraj.
The more we hear from the man himself, the more we fall in love with the club and probably all these factors together have been the secret to the strong bond this club has with the fans. Neeraj further said that “I always say every one to dream big in order to achieve big.” “I am seeing ourselves in the Indian Super League in the next 5 years and seeing our club in the AFC Futsal Championship and becoming the Champions of AIFF Elite League in the next 5 years. My Dreams are very big”, said Neeraj was understandable already from what he had said during our time in the interview and even before on various occasions about how he believes that one needs to have the courage to dream big in order to achieve big and together we can make it possible.
Techtro hopes to create more and more academies across the country and in Himachal, and reach newer heights not just with themselves but with Indian Football as a whole. We respect the philosophy and idea brought in by Techtro where they want us to know that as fans we are not just mere viewers on social media but our voices actually have value and we can all come together to bring forward a change and make a difference. They have brought in an inspiration and revolution among the fans, making us all believe that we can do wonders if we Unite and fight together towards a common dream.
To conclude the interview Neeraj said that “The aim of Techtro Swades United is to give opportunities to the ones who deserve it and provide a platform to the ones who want to pursue their career in football and we are always there for them.”
With 4 State Titles in the bag and 3 National Championships coming up, we are proud of the achievements of Techtro Swades United, and with every passing day we learn more about the club, and they never fail to impress and make us fall in love with their pure intentions and dedication toward Indian Football.
Until the next time, till we unravel some more stories and hopefully more success stories, we thank Mr. Neeraj Kholiya for his valuable time in the interview and we wish Techtro Swades United all the very best for their future. Thank you for making us believe and making our voices be valued and the least we can say is that, WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.
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