CHENNAI: Getting a major football academy in Tamil Nadu has been a big dream of C.R. Visswanathan, a former AIFF Vice-President and currently its Technical Chairman and he could well be in with a chance to make that come true with the State Government’s blessings after Bharati Airtel withdrew its proposed Rs. 100 crore football academy (in association with AIFF) in Goa.

The inability to get the required 75-acre land came as the last straw in the Telecom giant’s decision to move on and now, even if officials in Haryana have stated that the prestigious project has been allotted to it, it is learnt that no final decision had been taken yet by Bharati-Airtel in this regard.

Big opportunity

Mr. Visswanathan meanwhile is keen to seize this big opportunity after his earlier experience with regard to getting the proposal of a high altitude training centre approved by the State government.

A ten-acre plot in Kodaikanal has been earmarked for this project which when implemented would become the one of its kind in Asia, he said.

The former Tamil Nadu Football Association President said that he was confident of updating the Government through the Sports Development Authority on the importance of this major football project for the future of the sport in the State.

Also, he believed the academy will in time to come turn a major source of contribution for football at the National level.

From his own enquiries with sources in the Bharati Enterprises, Mr. Visswanathan had come to understand that the project, which had the blessings of the Premier Football Club in England (Manchester United) needed a location where the climate was not in the extremes, rather it had to be cool and comfortable. “I feel Coimbatore will be the ideal location that way,” he said.

Quick action needed

Whether Tamil Nadu will gain from Goa’s loss only time can tell but what is paramount for now is quick action.

While Mr. Visswanathan is clear in his mind that the State had the credentials to get this world-class project, he said ultimately it is the State Government which has to set the ball rolling and do it quickly too. — Special Correspondent

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