Football academies are often run ruthlessly, with the single-minded aim of producing the next big talent, with players below a certain level often rejected. Not Alphonse Josi’s Football Academy, Cochin, or FA Cochin, as it is popularly known.
“Everybody deserves to play football. We never send back any player who comes here to train with us. Here their interest to play football is prioritized above their talent,” he says. But this approach has not stopped FA Cochin from producing some quality players. “In the last Santosh Trophy, Aneesh P S and Vineeth Antony from Kerala and Sumesh from Services started kicking a ball through my academy,” says Josi, who is a ‘B’ grade licensed coach of the Asian Football Confederation. He has more than 20 years of experience.
The academy had humble beginnings, starting with just seven kids more than four years ago, but has since grown to have more than 45 members, who train every day at the St Alberts’ College Ground.
“Most of the children are aged 12 and below. This is the right age to infuse technical skills and a footballing brain, so that they have a chance of evolving into good players,” says Josi.
Another unique aspect about Josi’s academy is that it is run with the active participation of parents. “They look after the administrative affairs, including finances and infrastructure. This way, I get to focus on the footballing part,” he says.
Josi is no stranger to playing professionally, having represented a string of clubs, including the Bangalore-based Binny Mills during his playing career. So perhaps it is no surprise that a string of his players have succeeded in making it professionally in recent years.
“A lot of my players have got jobs with government teams, especially those in the defense sector,” he says. “They shone at the University level following which they were scouted by these teams. Watching players, who graduated from my academy, shine for their present teams, is one of the best parts of my job. I derive immense satisfaction when I compare how they were, when they first came, with how they are playing now.” Incidentally, Josi also coaches the Golden Threads city-based football club.