Odisha FC U-18’s frontline wreaked havoc in the 2019-20 Elite League, scoring 45 goals in just 14 games. A blitzing attack and a solid defence allowed the colts to finish second in the Delhi-Punjab-Jaipur zone, just three points below leaders Punjab FC, who managed 34 points.
The attacking prowess of Akshunna Tyagi and Rishabh Dobriyal was proved to be the key behind Odisha’s unlimited supply of goals. The former scored 21 goals while the latter netted 18 before the season was halted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Goal got in touch with Rishabh, who is just on the back of a fabulous season on the wings. He showcased his amazing dribbling skills and goalscoring abilities in the Elite League, finishing second in the top-scorers chart. He remains one of the most exciting prospects of his age.
The 18-year-old spent his formative years in Chandigarh, training at Young Gunners Academy, a side that features in the Chandigarh Football League.
He picked up football at a young age and is confident of making a career in the field. Most youngsters make role models out of international and national stars. But Rishabh drew inspiration from peers and used this to motivate himself.
“My dad used to get transferred a lot. We were living in Chandigarh when I first started playing football. I was in class four. I loved to skate and one day I started playing football and I have not stopped,” he said.
“My first coach was Dinesh Bisht. I used to play for the academy Young Gunners. I was 10 or 11 when I joined them. I tried to emulate Gaurav Chadha, who plays for Royal Rangers and was part of the Delhi Santosh Trophy team. He was my role model because he was the best player on the team and motivated me a lot.
“He always supported me and pushed me to give my best. I also had a lot of seniors push me.
“I played for the Gunners from when I was 11. I was scouted by Delhi Dynamos at the PC Roy trophy when I was about 16.”
Rishabh also spoke about how he tries to emulate India Arrows playmaker and NxGN India star Ayush Adhikari. The youngster exuded humility when he stressed on how he did not have to look beyond his team-mates for motivation and learned so much from his peers.
He also spoke about Shubham Sarangi, a local hero with the Odisha crowd who broke into the first team last season and left a lasting impression in his debut season in the Indian Super League (ISL)
“Ayush Adhikari is an inspiration for me. I have played with him; he is a friend. I like the way he plays. He plays for Indian Arrows now. He scored so many goals and I was inspired by that. His reactions are also very good.
“Scoring 18 goals feels amazing. It was more about the teamwork. I could score so many goals because the team supported me.
“Shubham Sarangi has helped me a lot. I know him from before and he has played with us in under-18 last season, only in a couple of matches because he is in the senior team. He is like a friend on the pitch, a friend who motivates you.
It was not easy to pick a favourite match when you have 18 goals to your name. But the 18-year-old had a particular game in mind.
“My second match against Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools (BBFS) was memorable. I made mistakes initially and missed a couple of chances but I scored the first goal. At one point we were winning 2-0 and they made it 2-2. Then I scored and a goal and we added a couple more. It was difficult to control them that game. The match ended 5-2 in our favour,” Rishabh said.
Rishabh has set sights on the Odisha senior team and the prospect of playing for the national team. He is currently waiting to pounce on the first opportunity to achieve these goals.
“It would be great if I get a chance to play for the senior team. If I get a chance to represent the country at any age group, I will take it for sure.
“I had great people who motivated me to pursue what I’m good at. My teammates at Gunners motivated me to pick up football as a career,” he concluded.