Premier Futsal might end this Sunday, but that shouldn’t stop you from signing your children up for these soccer camps in the country
HE may be one of the most controversial figures in football at the moment, but former FIFA president Sepp Blatter was spot on when he said that India is the sleeping giant of football. Ranked 152 in the world, our country is nowhere near the game’s elite. However, with big money players investing in country-based tournaments (ISL and Premier Futsal) and the FIFA-backed Mission 11 Million — an initiative by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to bring the game to more than 11 million children in the country later this year — it’s fair to say that times are changing. The country also did well to successfully bid for the hosting rights of the Under-17 World Cup next year.
Some of the credit for these changes should go to the numerous academies and clubs that have come up in the country, where grassroot-level training gets prime importance. Of these, the ones set up by clubs from top-tier leagues demand respect, as their soccer school programmes have generated immense interest in today’s generation of young footballers. We look at their upcoming camps or programmes, where aspiring footballers train under the watchful eyes of international coaches. Read on.
French champions, Paris Saint-Germain’s (PSG) programmes are open not just to schools but also to individuals who are ready to sign up for weekend classes only. They have centres in Delhi and Bengaluru too, and manage to attract over 350 children per year for their programmes, a huge jump from the 65 who signed up when they launched in 2014. Italian Simone Gasparatto is the head coach who boasts of an experience of over eight years. He has also monitored various camps for both PSG and AC Milan. “In Hyderabad, we have Antoine Mazarin as the head coach,” says Dharanidhar Thayi, the manager of the club’s school programme in Hyderabad. Open to ages 6 to 17. Registrations from `12,000 per head. Details: psgfootballacademy.in
Football Star Academy (FSA),
from Australia, will conduct their
summer camps and free clinics in Coimbatore this December (dates not yet finalised). While the clinic features basic training for children, the 10-day summer camp is a more comprehensive programme. Open to ages 6 to 16.
At `2,100 per head. Details: footballstaracademy.in
Boca Juniors, Bengaluru
The club that boasts of former players like Maradona launched their first branch in the country in Bengaluru three years ago, and expanded to Mumbai recently. Students at the school have the privilege of being able to sign up for excurson trips to the parent club in Argentina and train with the first team, that now has the mercurial Carlos Tevez and other international superstars. The children also get to take part in club competitions like the League Tournament, the inaugural edition of which was held two months ago. Held in collaboration with Goa Developmental Football Council, it was open to under-10 and under-12 players.
Arsenal’s Soccer Schools programme started in the country in 2014, featuring both domestic and foreign coaches from the parent club in London. “We have tied-up with around 40 schools in the country so far, and have our offices in Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharasthra, Punjab and Telangana,”says Danesh Mistry, the manager of the year-long programme in Hyderabad, adding that all their coaches have been certified by the UEFA. While the programme is open only to schools, individual students can request for training too. Open to ages 5 to 17.Details: iotarsenalsoccerschools.com
Barcelona’s soccer school, FCBEscola, was established around four years ago in collaboration with Delhi-based Conscient Football. Spanning 36 weeks, their programme draws students from across the country and technical directors from Barcelona, like Eric Jones (an FA-qualified expert), fly down to supervise. Their first centre in Mumbai is launching soon and open trails are already underway. Details: fcbescola.fcbarcelona.com
Liverpool’s school in India is their only one outside the UK. Set up in collaboration with Pune-based DSK Shivajians Football Club, it provides a yearly programme where participants stay on premises and go through the rigours of daily training. Their head coach is Dave Rogers, and each batch has an average of around 66 students who stand chances to win scholarships and train at the club’s parent grounds. At `4.5 lakhs, plus taxes. Details: lfc-dskacademy.co.in
Text: Karan Pillai