Teen earns call-up to Africa tour
BY MARC WEBER
Slumdog Millionaire was named best picture on Sunday, but for Gagandeep Dosanjh last weekend, it couldn't compete with his own miniature rags-to-riches story.
The attacking midfielder from Abbotsford received a call at the movies from Whitecaps' residency director Thomas Niendorf, telling him he was moving up to the senior squad.
And, if that wasn't enough for the 18-year-old, he was going with the team on its Tanzanian tour where crowds of 60,000 could take in their games against the national team and two top club sides.
"It was pretty good," Dosanjh said of the flick, "but I didn't enjoy it as much after getting the news. I was way too excited.
"I didn't expect it at all to happen. I just got a call out of the blue and [Thomas] told me 'You've been moved up and you get to go to Africa.' I was just thrilled to hear it."
"Gags," as his teammates call him, has been tearing up the Vancouver Metro Soccer League this season playing for the Delta Whitecaps.
The gifted 5-foot-5 player has 12 goals, which puts him second in VMSL scoring. He was a key part of the residency boys' run to the USL Premier Development League semifinals in 2008, having been with the side since its inception.
Four Whitecaps who regularly train with the senior side are away with Canada's under-20 side, opening the door for Dosanjh. Defender Geordie Lyall and midfielder Justin Moose are also missing out on the two-week Africa trip due to injury. The team leaves March 4 and plays its first game against the national team on March 8.
"I thought about two or three guys [to bring in], but Gags was for me the clear choice," said Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson. "He has been extremely good in the residency group, and in the games I've seen, he's performed all the time and he deserves it.
"He's made some great steps forward and has tools that few others have."
The biggest crowds Dosanjh has played for numbered around 4,000. Those were in Jamaica when he was competing for Canada's under-17 team at the CONCACAF championship.
He can't wait for the spectacle that awaits the team in Tanzania.
"It's going to be surreal," he said. "It's cool to go somewhere different and experience that, but you've got to respect it's a soccer trip and not a vacation.
"If I do well, as anyone who gets an opportunity, I might get a chance to stay. So it's all about playing well and working hard."