The Greater Chennai Corporation is planning to screen 1,500 poor students from corporation schools to provide free coaching by professional cricketers who have experience in playing at the international level.
As cricket coaching had become unaffordable for poor parents of 1.1 lakh children studying in corporation schools, the civic body has taken the initiative. As many as 40 children will be selected in the first phase. More students will receive free coaching in the next phase.
Physical education teachers in middle schools have been asked to select the best candidates for the screening session to be conducted shortly. The first phase of the free cricket coaching will be organised for 11 months.
Once 40 students are selected, the Corporation will arrange for coaching twice a week at a cricket academy. The civic body will make the transport arrangements from the school to the cricket academy.
It will be only boys in the initial stages as parents are unwilling to send their daughters to cricket coaching because of the distance factor. However, the Corporation plans to develop more cricket infrastructure in its schools to facilitate free coaching for boys and girls. A few initiatives under the Namakku Namae Thittam to develop cricket infrastructure in Chennai Schools have been taken recently. But they have not materialised, said an official.
Similarly, free coaching for football will be launched for the students. As a number of modern football facilities have been developed in the vicinity of Chennai Schools in areas such as Kottur, Tondiarpet and Saidapet, more girls are expected to receive free coaching.
At least 20 of the 60 students who will receive free football coaching will be girls. The programmes will be implemented with support from the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the European Union (EU), the officials added.