Former Argentine international and inspirational Inter Milan skipper Javier Zanetti, set to retire from professional football at the end of the season, says he desires to work closely with the club’s academy in India.
“For me, this is an opportunity for a new experience with Inter, and I’ll be proud to take part in it, to share our club’s philosophy with coaches and players at the first Inter Academy in India,” he says in a chat with The Hindu.
Zanetti and club president Erick Thohir are expected to be present for the academy’s unveiling in Mathagondapalli, Hosur, in the last week of May.
The club also has plans to operate centres in Chennai, Bangalore, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai, which will act as feeders to the main academy and will be manned by UEFA-accredited Inter coaches during weekday evenings and weekends.
The Italian club also wants to leverage the existing school infrastructure in major Indian cities, organise village camps across the country and tie up with an I-League club.
The football associations of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra have decided to make available junior players for the initial trials.
The clinic in Chennai will be held on March 19 and 20.
The residential academy, coming up in the sprawling campus of the Mathagondapalli Model School, a rural institute for community education, will initially host about 100 trainees in the 7-to-17 age-group.
The club’s senior youth team coach Andrea Ratti will head the Indian operations, and there will be additional full time international coaches from Inter joining the setup. Stefano Rapetti, a former trainer for the first team, will oversee the physical preparation of the players.
Inter officials have also decided to improve the conditions of the two existing football pitches in Hosur and install floodlights in one of them. “In all this time I’ve been at Inter one thing that’s always impressed me is the importance the club has placed over the years on developing young players and promoting projects to help the next generation of footballers.
“This commitment to youth has brought about a string of successes for the club’s youth department and led to the setting up our Inter Academies,” says Zanetti.
“I’m certain that, with the expertise of Marco Monti, Stefano Rapetti — who I know very well, and Andrea Ratti, this new adventure in India will help unearth and develop many more talented youngsters. It will be of great benefit to coaches and young footballers alike, as they will have the chance to learn from each other.”