THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:They might not be in the big league just yet, but Santos Football Academy based at Poojappura is slowly but surely making progress by providing training for young kids in the game of football.
Around 50 children from all parts of the city, including Karamana, Pappanamcode, Jagathy, Peyad, Peroorkada, Kowdiar and Trikannapuram, gather at the Poojappura ground every Saturday and Sunday to eagerly learn the trade from coaches at Santos.
“Children in these areas who were interested in pursuing a career in football did not have any option earlier. But with the opening of Santos, they have been given a lifeline,” said K Syamkumar, a Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) employee and chief training coordinator at Santos.
“The response from the kids was excellent when we organised the summer camp last year. So, we decided to continue the training sessions two days a week throughout the year,” Syamkumar said.
“Now, we have over 50 young footballers aged between 8 and 15 years who are all very enthusiastic about the game,” he said.
The academy is being run by a core group of sports enthusiasts comprising P P Nair, Sivendran G, Syamkumar, Sunil Kumar, Victor J S, Rajeev K, Anitha Kumari, Dhanya V and Sabarlal. The coaching sessions are being conducted by Simon, a former footballer and coach from Valiyathura.
Though there are occasional hiccups in training like the one they are facing now owing to the unavailability of the Poojappura ground as it is hosting an event, Syamkumar said there is a lot of promise in the footballers who are coming through the academy.
“We want to distribute football kits, including T-shirts, shorts, football cleats etc to the children, but we also have to consider our financial muscle and act prudently,” he said. It would make their life running the academy a lot more easier if a sponsor came in, he added.
“But we are sure that these footballers can go on to do big things in football if they continue to receive proper training,” he said. Santos also hopes to start its own football club to participate in the district leagues once the young footballers reach the required standards to do so.
It was through the youth system of Santos Football Club six decades ago that a certain Pele burst into world football. And the club’s namesake in the capital is also hoping to find Kerala’s football jewel through the novel initiative.