KOCHI: Ravindran K believes football is not something that can be stamped upon youngsters. And so the coach says what he does at the Sacred Heart Football Academy in Thevara is just make the kids around feel passionate about the sport.
An AFC C license coach and graduate of the Grassroots Leaders Course, Ravindran has overseen the development of several footballers over the years, a few of whom he guided to play for the national team.
“At grassroots level, it is a little about learning the basics of football and a lot about creating enthusiasm for the game at the end of which we assess whether they are really excited about football,” he says.
Fortunately for Ravindran, not many are able to unfollow footballer after attending his coaching session. “When they are 10 or 11 years old, it is okay to dance to their tunes,” he says.
The academy, started by former India international C C Jacob and run by the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, now gives football coaching to over 100 children while also ensuring along the way they complete their schooling under the management’s schools and colleges.
The training is categorised into under-13, under-16, under-18 and college sides and the scenic Sacred Heart College ground is a hive of activity on most of the mornings with Ravindran and his boys.
Technical directors C C Jacob and Xavier Pius have a wealth of experience between them and coaches T V Joy, AKhil P S and K K Ananthan are all ears to the kids. Behind the stage, SH College Physical Education Department head K A Raju and Paul Raj are ever active.
The coach is sure that the grassroots development programme proposed by the Indian Super League will reap benefits if a focused effort is taken to keep the group of footballers together.
“These days, our junior teams are selected one week before a tournament and only come together the day before matches start. How do you expect to improve footballers with such approach?,” Ravindran asks.
He points out the success the Ernakulam sub-junior and junior teams had during a five year period starting 2005 where he and Arun Pratap created a title winning side by bringing them together at least three days a week.
The Sacred Heart Academy has won several honours over the years were champions of Coca Cola inter-school tournament and the KFA inter-academy district league while they were Kerala runners-up at the Subroto Cup inter-school tournament.