The hunt for fresh football talent

Ardeshir Jeejeebhoy, CEO, Liverpool International Football Academy – DSK Shivajians gives us a low-down of the national talent scouting that will give a lucky few the chance to be trained at the academy at Loni. He shares some information about the facilities at the academy and the talent they have an eye out for…

Football is growing in India and we need the right frame of mind to make sure that the right talent is tapped to produce the best footballers in the country. They will represent us at national and international levels and will make us proud. And so, you see a collaboration between Liverpool FC International Football Academy – DSK Shivajians, to make sure that the right talent is enouraged to play the sport in India. What’s more, it is being done right here in our own city. A nationwide hunt to search for football talent was organised in five cities while two trials were held in Pune. The lucky ones get the opportunity to learn at the DSK International Campus at Loni, Pune. Ardeshir Jeejeebhoy, CEO, Liverpool International Football Academy – DSK Shivajians, gives more details regarding the hunt and things in store.
The idea of the hunt was simple – to identify young Indian football talent. Ardeshir quips, “These footballers will form the first batch of students to be trained at the Academy that will soon be launched. The thought behind this world class establishment is to ensure wholesome development of students who would go on to represent the country at both junior and international platforms and provide skill sets for those who are looking at sports as a long term career. The scouting which has taken place in five cities has been a massive success. These five legs of the camps saw about 2,400 keen participants trying to impress the Liverpool FC coaches to secure a berth in the finals.”
The cities chosen were interesting, especially the two cities from the North-east which has been football bastion. Ardeshir comments, “This first edition of the talent scouting was conducted in six cities – Aizawl, Shillong, Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and Pune taking into consideration the limited time. During our research, we realised that the North Eastern states have immense talent pool and the youngsters there have tremendous passion for football. This encouraged us to take our scouting trials to one of the cities there. We would be covering Kerala, Kolkata and Chandigarh by the end of this year.”

Ardeshir Jeejeebhoy
L-R Michael William Rice, LFC Coach, Shirish Kulkarni, President of the Academy, Ray Curtis, LFC Coach and Ardeshir Jeejeebhoy, CEO of the Academy

The 64 participants who get selected will be the lucky ones indeed! They get the exciting chance to complete the course at the academy under the guidance of coaches from the Liverpool Football Academy. “Along with this, the academy is equipped with world class facilities. We are leaving no stone unturned to ensure the academy, its training and facilities are at par with international standards. Boys from the Academy have the opportunity to get a professional contract with DSK Shivajians or go on to play with a club in the I-League. Our partnership with Liverpool FC provides 10 boys a chance to visit the main Liverpool Academy every year,” Ardeshir proudly states.
It is also vital that those who missed the chance or want to try for the academy get some points for future reference. It is also important that we know more about what the academy has in mind. Ardeshir ends, by adding, “The goal will be to place all graduating academy players onto a professional club. Some will go on to securing a professional contract with DSK Shivajians, while some into the I-League. Over time, we will look to place other talented players onto clubs abroad. During the time at the academy, the boys will be encouraged to take up courses across coaching, referee and football administration. LFC’s aim will be to develop every player– both on and off the pitch – to reach their full potential. Success will be judged on a case by case basis and we will aim to provide the best possible football education to the players that are a part of this club, as we do at the LFC Academy in Liverpool.”