For every Messi-to-be in India who has chosen to opt for a career that has nothing to do with soccer, there is one in Bengaluru who is getting an extraordinary view into the world of the best football. This month, when the city will host an outpost of the Camp Nou on its own fields, a long tradition of the best foreign clubs setting up camps in Bengaluru will have been continued. Not only are kids in the city being handpicked by the training schools of the likes of Manchester United, they often get to take a pass or tackle the same coaches who train Luis Suarez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Carlos Tevez!
With FC Barcelona setting up camp in at the Inventure Academy, city kids now have the opportunity to get a rare peek of the Barca way of playing football. Kishen Whabi, who is head of physical education and sports at Inventure is excited at the very prospect. He says, “It is open both to girls and boys – as equality in sports is something that we have always tried to keep up in our school’s PT practices. The two coaches who are coming down are both illustrious and one of them have played in the FCB B team for eight years. A camp as this will only show that the European way of playing football is one of phenomenal style altogether.”
However, European clubs are not the only ones who have displayed exceptional technique through the years. When a club that has had the god of football – Diego Maradona – play for it, chances are its school will draw kids by large numbers. In 2013 Club Atletico Boca Junior of Argentina launched the Boca Juniors Football School in Bengaluru. With Oscar Aquino at the helm of the academy, this Argentine outpost has grown to serve as a home for youngsters who wish to take up football as a career. Sunanda Das who manages the efforts of the school says, “With internal leagues and competitions every three to four months, the boys who have the option of signing up either for courses that range from six to 16 years get a taste of the competition and what they need to do to make their games better. While some of the 300 boys continue training because of their passion for the game, some others do it because training sessions by a first tier club gives them hope of turning football into a career. We also participate in overseas tournaments which are great for exposure as the boys get to play against teams from Indonesia and Thailand , whose might and styles are rather different.”
It is not just camps in the city that give young aspirants a sharp view of the climb ahead. Adhip Bhandary, as the head of the Bangalore Youth Football League, organises trips to Europe with his students, chiefly for experience. He says, “The boys have been to Madrid , to the Netherlands and Barcelona . The importance of experiences like those provided by the Gothia Cup – a world youth cup – is unbelievable in youngsters. We make sure to watch a La Liga or Eredivise match and meet one of the teams playing. We’ve met Español, Real Madrid and Ajax and it has proven to be a great energizer for the kids.”...