Indian academy notices growing football trend

Four years ago, Anjali and Nirvan Shah, directors of the Premier Indian Football Academy, kick-started a football movement in Mumbai that gave children from elite families the opportunity to train with coaches of some of the best English clubs. A year later, they initiated the same training in India by bringing those coaches here with their modern training methods to give lesser privileged children the opportunity to experience the best. Today, reported Stanislaus D’Souza of the Times of India, they are overwhelmed by the growing numbers and demands for more international local camps with coaches from the Bobby Charlton Soccer School and Rangers (of the UK) and AC Milan tours.

"As both our sons played football, we wanted them to have better training exposure. So Nirvan went to England with a group of 12 kids in 2003 on a leisure-football trip," said Anjali. When the kids returned they were so happy with the experience and the coaching methods, that Nirvan decided to hunt for a football training school in the UK that specialises in training kids. "In 2004 we took 19 kids and the following month 15 more to the Bobby Charlton Soccer School," informed Anjali.

"Then we decided to bring the coaches of the Bobby Charlton Soccer School to India to cut down on costs so that more children can benefit. In October 2004, the director and assistant director of the BCSS were flown down. With the costs reduced now, 77 kids turned up at the camp held at the Varca ground in Goa. Today, over 500 children have trained at the BCSS, the Rangers Academy and the AC Milan Junior Soccer School. And over 1500 have gained from the training camps conducted by coaches of the BCSS in Goa, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai."

PIFA has now started training at five centres in Mumbai and the are demands are still growing to start centres. "I have noticed a growing trend in children taking to playing football. Of course, there are many among them who also play cricket but they are passionate about football too. Many are switching over from cricket," said Anjali, who is pleased her husband Nirvan gave up his more established business in printing and packaging and made football his priority.