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Dazzling 15-year-old set for Crystal Palace chance

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A 15-year-old Indian boy has won the trip of a lifetime to train at the Crystal Palace Academy.

Dhruvmil Pandya, from Mumbai, beat more than 350 teenagers who took part in the Play for Palace trials and was identified as the outstanding young talent for the future.

The event was a partnership between Crystal Palace FC and Indian Super League club, Mumbai City FC, to coincide with the Barclays Premier League Live fan festival in the city.

Dhruymil was the youngest of more than 100 teenagers who took part in a trial last Thursday, having made it through the preliminary stages, and was one of eight boys who made it to yesterday's (Sunday) final.

Dhruvmil, a midfielder, has dreamed of playing professional football since he was a small boy and has recently been selected to represent the Indian National team at under-17 level.

The judging panel, led by Crystal Palace ambassador Mark Bright and representatives from Mumbai City FC, with input from former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler, felt he was the best future prospect.

"There were so many good players, but once it got down to the final eight I knew I was in with a chance," said the delighted teenager. "This is a dream come true for me to travel to England and train with the Crystal Palace Academy.

"It's a big day for me and I hope in a few years Indians will be playing in the Premier League or at big European clubs".

His diet will be monitored over the coming months and he will follow a fitness plan created by coaches at Crystal Palace and Mumbai City FC to help with his conditioning before he arrives at the Academy.

Dhrumvil will train at the Academy for a week next spring, meet manager Neil Warnock and first-team players, and attend a home match as guest of honour. When he returns to Mumbai, he will become an ambassador for Crystal Palace.

Palace want to build a long-term partnership in Mumbai, which will help improve the quality of football and raise the club's profile in India where the Barclays Premier League is increasingly popular.

Crystal Palace ambassador Mark Bright said: "This is a unique initiative. Everyone has a favourite local team and favourite overseas team – we want football fans in India to follow us".

Working with the Magic Bus charity, the CPFC Foundation team also held coaching sessions for local youngsters and an evening workshop for coaches and volunteers at local clubs.

The Crystal Palace Academy has a long tradition of developing young talent – former Academy members include Premier League stars Victor Moses, Wilfred Zaha, Nathaniel Clyne and Wayne Routledge.

Dazzling 15-year-old set for Crystal Palace chance


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