Liverpool FC’s former player Jamie Carragher on Tuesday inaugurated an international football academy in Pune and recalled how he cut his teeth at the club’s academy for six years before donning its colours for 17 seasons.

The Liverpool FC-DSK Shivajians international football academy, a sprawling state-of-the-art residential school, is set to start training programmes from this month.

“I was at Liverpool’s academy for six years before I went on to play in the first team for 17 years. I know firsthand how important it is to have the right development as a young player to fulfil your potential,” said Carragher after the inauguration.

“The academy back in Liverpool is very close to my heart, so it’s great to be here and be part of the opening of India’s first international residential football academy.”

“The players, who will make up the U-17s and U-19s squads, will follow Liverpool’s philosophies both on and off the pitch. The kids are from all over the country and some of them have been awarded scholarships so this will be a life changing experience for them,” he added.

The inauguration comes close on the heels of a just concluded three-month long nationwide scouting camp held in six cities. The initiative witnessed over 2,500 participants who underwent a selection processes under the supervision of Liverpool FC coaches Ray Curtis and Michael Rice.

The 64 best players would be finally selected to form the first intake of the academy, located at Loni, on the outskirts of Pune, in under-17 and under-19 age groups, it was announced at the launch.

The academy, a collaboration between Liverpool and DSK, a Pune-based realty firm, is built to global standards and consists of a residential complex with 840 air conditioned and fully furnished single rooms, a release said.

It also features two full-size pitches, one 4G synthetic turf and one natural grass, and an outdoor swimming pool along with practice areas, lecture theatre, classrooms, changing rooms, a gymnasium, canteen, convenience store and entertainment facilities.

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