CHENNAI: FC Madras, an ambitious local football club that focuses on youth development, on Saturday unveiled its new facility at Mahabalipuram near Chennai.
The facility, named the ‘Home of FC Madras’, has been built according to FIFA standards, which are specified by the AIFF (All India Football Federation) and the AFC (Asian Football Confederation).
The 23-acre campus houses three state-ofthe-art flood-lit pitches, including East Asia’s second hybrid pitch, strength and conditioning centre, futsal pitch, swimming pool, residential hostel and an alternate learning centre that follows the NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) curriculum. The FC Madras academy will provide tools to not only excel in football but also in education and life.
Addressing the media, FC Madras founder Girish Mathrubootham said: “We believe that champions can be engineered. We are in Mahabalipuram, so I would say that champions can be sculptured. It takes time and effort.” The academy, which can accommodate 130 athletes, is now home to 50 hand-picked players.
As many as 2,416 kids from across 19 cities in the country were scouted and 100 of them were invited for a week-long selection at Mahabalipuram. The top-50 players, aged between 12 and 16, were picked for the scholarship programme. “When at the age of 11 or 12, there is absolutely no difference between India and say for example kids in Brazil, Spain or the USA. It is about what happens after that. The exposure to training and coaching… the nutrition they have… the fitness regime they have… the infrastructure they have. That is what is creating the difference. When they are 16 or 17, the gap is so wide. That is where we want to close the gap down,” said Girish.
At the press conference, Girish was accompanied by FC Madras director of sports and governance CKM Dhananjai, who guided the visitors during the facility tour. Shanmugam Venkatesh, the former India men’s national team assistant coach, will join as the FC Madras technical director once his stint with Indian Super League club East Bengal FC comes to an end. Abhishek Yadav, former captain of the India team and former deputy general secretary of the AIFF, will join as the CEO of FC Madras.
FC Madras’s role in I-League champion’s journey RoundGlass Punjab FC’s 17-year-old midfielder Manglenthang Kipgen, who impressed during his time at the FC Madras Under-15 team, is an I-League champion now. “He (Manglenthang) isa special player. We all used to love watching him play. We knew that he would shine wherever he goes. We are happy that COVID-19 did not stop his progress,” said Girish.
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