Ranjit Bajaj

Ranjit Bajaj - A man who has won it all

Ranjit Bajaj, who founded Minerva Punjab Football Club in 2013, was gearing up for a rollercoaster ride into the wilderness of Indian football. Almost seven years later, the maverick owner and his spouse Henna Bajaj have relinquished all their shares to Round Glass, bringing an end to their tryst with Minerva Punjab, or Punjab FC as it is known now.

But within this short period of time, Bajaj has won all football competitions that his team participated, including all age-group tournaments, barring the Super Cup. 

Apart from winning the I-League, they have been crowned All India Champions of the AIFF U-16 Youth I-League or Nike Premier Cup for three consecutive years (2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18), the U-13 Youth league (2017-18) and U-18 Elite Youth League (2018-19) as well.

In 2018, Minerva created history when they held all national titles across all age groups at the same time. 

More importantly, Bajaj has managed to do it operating within a shoestring budget. No extravagant signings, no big names in the squad but players who would give their all for the crest.

Chencho Gyeltshen Henna Bajaj Kiran Chenzong Minerva Punjab I-League 2017-18 champions

Bajaj signed unfancied foreign names who came into the limelight after their stints with Punjab FC. A certain Chencho Gyeltshen stole the limelight from nowhere during their I-League winning campaign and after he jumped ship, he could not replicate his former success. The other overseas candidates were humble faces like Eric Dano, William Opoku, East Bengal reject Bazie Armand and Nepalese keeper Kiran Chemjong.  

His hands-on approach right from recruiting players in pre-season to strategising during the match from the dugout has been unconventional, to say the least. 

Courtesy of winning the I-League in 2017-18, Minerva also got the opportunity to show their mettle at the continental stage where they competed in the group stages of the AFC Cup after falling to a defeat in the AFC Champions League preliminary play-offs.

After winning it all, Bajaj has undertaken an ambitious project titled Mission 2034, which would see him go scouting across the country for under nine footballers. The target is to help India qualify for the 2034 World Cup.