Football

At the acme of excellence

SHINING STARS: Players who have done the academy proud. Photo: G. Moorthy

SHINING STARS: Players who have done the academy proud. Photo: G. Moorthy   | Photo Credit: G.Moorthy

A city-based football academy grooms under-privileged children into skilful players

At a time when people are citing lack of infrastructure and paucity of funds as reasons for the shortage of quality football players, one academy in the city is silently marching towards glory by producing three State players in as many years, and that too with minimum infrastructure and little outside support.

It all started when a group of dedicated former players of the Acme Sports Club decided to carry forward their dreams to the next generation. “With passion and interest for the game growing stronger by the day, we felt the need to make a different kind of contribution to the sport,” says R. Yagna Srinivasan, secretary of the sports club and one of the founders of the academy.

Having realised that the success of any sports club lies not only in winning trophies but also in producing players of calibre, the members of Acme Sports Club started the Acme Academy. “It is an outcome of our effort to take our club to the next level,” he says.

The academy's main agenda is to make use of the untapped potential of under-privileged children living in and around the Burma Colony, Tirunagar and Thiruvalluvar Nagar. “Our club was started with that intention 15 years ago and we wanted to continue the mission,” he says. “We wish to introduce the game of football to as many children as possible. We aim to set standards of good conduct and sportsmanship and shape the children as responsible persons in the society.”

The children are provided with kits and jerseys free of cost. They are also covered by insurance for sports-related injuries. The academy has also made arrangements to extend free education to deserving candidates and organises free classes in the evening to help the trainees fare better in studies.

Being football players, most of these children get admission in good schools in the city with substantial fee concessions. Some deserving cases get a full fee waiver.

The academy has roped in the services of D. Manoharan, a former Indian Air Force player and a qualified coach, to bring in technical inputs and professionalism. R. Babanasa Srinivasan and M. Velmurugan prepare personal record cards of the trainees and monitor their progress. K. Alagappan, a former footballer and an expert in organising matches, rounds out the faculty. “He has been with us for more than 15 years. He used to organise friendly matches for our clubs and coached us efficiently,” says Mr. Yagna Srinivasan.

Now that they have established themselves, they want to own an exclusive ground with all facilities. “We have already earmarked a 5-acre land near Thenpazhanji,” says Mr. Yagna Srinivasan. “Our club president Ezhil Venugopal takes care of mobilising funds for the project. Raising funds is no problem for us as we have more than 120 members in our club. It will be a great achievement if we are able to finish the project on time.”

From just 20 players in 2008 to 72 now, the academy has grown in size and stature. It has made a noticeable impact in several football tournaments across the State, and the credit for that goes to the sustained efforts of the members and the coach.

TORCHBEARERS:

Son of a stone mason, K. Sarath Kumar, II B.Com., Mannar Tirumalai Naicker College, represented Tamil Nadu under-17 football team in the all-India tournament, Chandigarh, in 2009. He recently emerged as the top scorer in the inter-district football championship in Chennai.

S. Ajmer Khajamohideen, studying XII Standard in St. Mary's HSS, represented the Tamil Nadu under-15 team in the national football tournament, Mumbai, in 2010. His father owns a footwear shop in Tirupparankundram.

M. Kumar, whose father whitewashed buildings, is now studying X Standard in Savita Bai HSS and represented the State under-14 team in the all-India tournament, Kolkata, in 2010.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 27, 2020 7:38:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/at-the-acme-of-excellence/article2223939.ece

Next Story