Pachaiyappa’s Harrington Football Academy, city’s premier nursery for aspiring footballers, felicitated the Tamil Nadu football team, runners-up in the recently concluded Santosh Trophy in Orissa, at the Pachaiyappa’s College Ground on Sunday. Fifteen players and the support staff were given mementos — a wooden plank embossed with photographs of Andrea Pirlo and Xavi Hernandez — and a bouquet.
Leading up to the function, the Harrington Football Club players, clad in respective team colours, split themselves into Italy and Spain and featured in a 40-minute exhibition match at the Pachaiyappa’s Ground, played to the background of snazzy drums. Twenty minutes comprised each half, and at half-time the Tamil Nadu players were feted to a standing ovation.
Though the contest was meant to be an exhibition match of sorts, the boys exhibited competence and coherence, excitement and endurance. However, none could break the deadlock in the opening half. Nor did they score in the second half, and the match eventually went into the tiebreaker wherein Spain prevailed 5-4.
At half-time — a 20-minute break — a few academy trainees did juggling routines to keep the audience, mostly football lovers and former players occupied. Thereafter, they cut the Euro-insignia decorated cake.
They had organised a similar event at the same venue ahead of the 2010 World Cup final between the Netherlands and Spain. “When we were planning the event we also thought of honouring the TN team, who reached the Santosh Trophy final after 40 years. So we clubbed it together. This will also give an opportunity for the young players to interact with the senior players,” said S Yuvraj, one of the secretaries of the academy, and the president of the Chennai Football Players and Fans Welfare Association.
Tamil Nadu coach Syed Sabir Pasha was elated at the lively reception. “It’s a wonderful gesture and a boost for the sport in the city. Hopefully, we can do one step better next time and make them happier,” he said.