Four in a family, all for Football

Rounak Majumdar
5 min read
March 14, 2022

“Back in our days, we did not have the opportunity to play and study. Because of my academics, I had to drop my dream of playing cricket at the elite level. That is one of the reasons I want my four sons to continue playing football and put full effort.”

David D’Lima, father of Dylan and Ryann, BBFS Residential Academy students. 

The Indian sporting fraternity has witnessed many siblings play professionally and achieve incredible feats in the past. Take examples of Mohinder and Surinder Amarnath, Irfan and Yusuf Pathan, Hardik and Krunal Pandya in cricket, Dhyan Chand and Roop Chand in Hockey. We have the four Phogat sisters in wrestling – Babita, Geeta, Ritu, and Sangeeta.

In football, some famous families have reached the pinnacle as well. We have Dereck and Neville D’Souza, the Banerjee brothers in Prasun and Pradip if we go back in time.

Talking of the current generation, we have Amarjit’s family, the duo of Nikhil and Vinil Poojary, Prabsukhan and Gursimrat Gill, and a few others.

In Barnes School & Junior College, a BBFS Residential Academy, we have the D’Lima duo. However, they are not the only footballers in their family. The elder ones, Darin and Ronan, are also there.

Born in Pune, the four brothers, Darin (21), Ronan (18), Dylan (16), and Ryann (13), are a special group. The elder two have risen through the ranks and recently flown to Spain to represent Palamós C.F.

Dylan and Ryann started their training at Vedas International School, a BBFS Residential Academy, Delhi, in 2018-19. They shifted base to BBFS’ Residential Academy in Maharashtra after the pandemic. As it stands, they too are on the brink of a remarkable sojourn this month-end.

A cricket-loving family that switched to football

“When I was young, I used to watch cricket because of my father. He has always been a huge cricket fan, and I developed an interest. Initially, I played cricket. But my brothers started playing football. I was not inclined towards the game. During the 2012 Champions League final, my love for Chelsea and football happened. When I watched Drogba’s heroics and Chelsea’s celebration of winning the Champions League, I too wanted to play and live similar moments. Soon, I joined my brothers. That’s how my love and journey began in football.”, says Dylan, currently in class XI.

Ryann’s introduction to football was quite similar to his elder brothers. At age 3, Ryann was famous for remembering the names of all Indian Premier League (IPL) players. He also confronted his love for De Villiers when we spoke on call. But of late, cricket is no longer a priority. Football has taken over.

Dylan and Ryann started their formal training at Pune Soccer Academy. They learned the basics at the academy and were remarked as the finest lot. Soon, Mr. David decided that the boys needed a bigger platform to hone their skills.

“We wanted to opt for the best facilities for our boys. We thought they needed a structured curriculum that focuses on holistic athlete development. We believed their curriculum should include equal focus on training, academics, diet, and other aspects. We have traveled through the nooks and corners of India to find a suitable residential academy for Dylan and Ryann. Fortunately, we found BBFS Residential Academy. They took the trials in Pune, and Dylan was selected in 2018. The following year Ryann joined him.”, quipped Mr. David.

A home away from home

When Dylan joined BBFS, he was 12 at the time. Ryan was 10. The initial days, as they say, were difficult. It took some time to adjust to the new environment and city. Food habits needed to change, which was not what they had expected. The training was challenging as well. But, amidst the challenges, they both agreed on getting the required exposure.

“Leaving your home is never easy. I missed my parents and wanted to go back to them. But I realize now why it was important. Sacrifices are to be made if you have a set ambition. I joined BBFS Residential Academy to become a professional footballer. And over the years, I have transformed myself. My learnings here remain unparalleled. I have become disciplined, empathetic, and courageous. I am surrounded by like-minded individuals, which adds to the motivation. Every day is a new challenge, and I am willing to push my limits. I understand my responsibilities and have become aware of my well-being. These traits are being reflected in my game too. If I had stayed at home and continued training, things might not have turned out to be the same. At BBFS, we are a big family with a set purpose.”, claimed Ryann, currently in class VIII.

Speaking to Ryann’s coach, Rajiv S Nair, he spoke about his journey since Ryann joined.

“Ryann is a quality box-to-box midfielder. He is strong mentally and physically and shows leadership traits on and off the pitch. When he came to us, we focused on sharpening his passing and finishing techniques, positioning, and ability to control the tempo of a game. Ryann possesses the quality to manipulate a game. And his work rate is exceptional. As he grows, if he works on improving himself and focuses on bettering certain areas, he has a bright future awaited.”, said coach Rajiv, an AFC C License holder.

Dylan underwent the same developmental journey. When he appeared for trials in Pune, he was a midfielder. However, at Vedas, Dylan realized his potential as a goalkeeper. Getting guidance from coach Kunal, he switched to goalkeeping and became one of the best.

“When I saw Dylan, I thought of trying him under the post. He is fearless at whatever he does. He is also very agile and has good game sense. These are important traits that are needed in a goalkeeper. So, as a coach, my job was to see if the new role suited him. Initially, I selected him as a keeper because I needed one for the junior batch. But I was intrigued to see his improvements in a short time. I focused on clearing the basics like gripping, cupping, and scoop. Gradually, he became our first choice keeper and was a part of the playing XI in the youth I-League. I believe, if guided well, Dylan has the potential to achieve great heights.”, affirmed Kunal Kumar, his former goalkeeping coach at Vedas International School.

A Sojourn in Spain

Having spent around four years in BBFS, both the boys went through a developmental journey that emphasized their physical, mental, tactical, technical, and social progress. Alongside a structured curriculum, the boys played reputed regional, national, and international competitions like Subroto Cup, Reliance Cup, MFA League, Singa Cup, Delhi League, Delhi Cup, etc. The exposure has enabled them to understand their strengths and work on their weaknesses.

“I thank the coaches and mentors at BBFS for providing them the right environment and helping them realize their dreams. I am also happy with the focus on education at BBFS Residential Academy. My wife and I understand that our children are very passionate about football. But balancing studies is paramount. It must go hand-in-hand. We will do whatever it takes to support them and help realize their dreams.”, concluded Mr. David.

This month-end, Ryann and Dylan will travel for a month-long exposure trip to Spain and represent Palamós C.F. The boys will train with the team and participate in reputed competitions where age-group teams of Real Madrid and Barcelona are slated to play.

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