CHENNAI: Dissatisfied with the structure and football training their sons received in Chennai, Priya Gopalen and Sandhya Rajan decided to step up and work towards fixing problems they saw in the city’s sports training centres by starting a centre of their own.
After a decade’s hard work and dedication, their centre, Great Goals, has grown to eight branches in the city. To commemorate their journey and also to do more for the people in the city; the centre is organising an anniversary carnival at St George’s Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School on Saturday. Speaking to DT Next about their journey Sandhya says, “Initially Great Goals started off as a recreational programme. But through the years, we started training kids as young as 4 to kids of 16 in football and basketball.
“Our players also play in national tournaments. We cater to all kinds of children: those who just want to let off some steam and have some fun and also to kids who want to make a career in sports and are looking for training and intervention.”
The centre has worked with several children through the years and has also trained children from underprivileged families free of cost. Their elite football teams participate in the Youth league run by the AIFF. They also started the city’s first girls-only football programme – ‘Just for Girls’ in 2015.
Talking about their growth over the years, Priya says, “It’s incredibly humbling. One of the things we focused on while creating Great Goals was wanting to build a community. It’s not just about the coaches running around or Sandhya and I running around to keep things running, but how the coaches and the parents mingle. We do a lot of community-building activities called the ‘Family Play Day’.
“We have consciously built that community and the ten-year mark is just incredible. The upcoming carnival is proof of that community building.”
The proceeds of the carnival will go to the Great Goals Trust which works towards bettering training and curriculum for kids and providing opportunities for those who are economically deprived. “We are looking forward to a fun day with some football, snacks and raffle tickets,” says Sandhya.