Coach Jamshid Nassiri shares tips with the boys Source: Young Heroes Facebook
In August last year, Star Sports launched an interesting campaign called Young Heroes. A unique scouting and Under-15 football tournament, the campaign was started to boost grassroots football in the country, and unearth hitherto unknown football talents for the future. Conducted in 15 cities across India, around 60 to 100 schools from each city were invited to participate in the Young Heroes program. The competition attracted approximately 420,000 students and matches were played for two days in every city. These matches were attended by a group of scouts headed by ex-Iranian football international, Jamshid Nassiri, who selected 3-4 boys from each team to participate in a training camp.
Swimming prodigy Saira Sirohi Source: Times Now Facebook
India shed a few tears earlier this week on Monday when it learned of Saira Sirohi’s tragic suicide. Saira, just 16 years old, was a prodigious national-level swimmer who had amassed 110 medals across various age categories over the years. She had been identified as an elite talent, a future Olympics probable, and only some months ago, swam for 15 hours without stopping at her school pool in Ghaziabad covering a lung-busting 38 kilometres.
For children, playing a sport is important – not just because it benefits them physically, or socially, but because they have fun. They get to meet different children, and learn about new experiences. Running around with their friends, scoring a goal, or joining in the celebrations when a friend scores a goal – that’s what kids care about, and that’s why they play sport.
Grassroots football plays an important role in trying to keep that spark alive in children. Football coaching, or coaching in general, isn’t just about being the coach with the team that wins, it’s about being the coach who is respected, and being the coach who kids want to train with. We need to remember what it felt like to be young, and run about with friends and have fun. Sport isn’t always about winning or losing – it’s about learning how to play the game right, and having a jolly good time while you do!
In the summer of 2011, the Pune FC Academy was started, and although the club no longer has a first team, they continue to focus on developing grassroots football in India. With the simple mantra of ‘Learn to Play the Pune FC Way’, the Academy has worked hard over the last 4 years, to carefully mould aspiring footballers in their city. The club recently topped the Maharashtra Zone in the U18 I-League and the U15 Youth League to qualify for the National Round to be held later this year.
As part of their youth development, Pune FC started off 2016 on a great note, by conducting a first of its kind intra-Soccer School Tournament at their training pitches in Mamurdi on the first weekend of the year. The aim of the tournament, was to bring together all the children from various Pune FC Soccer School centres across the city.
Christmas and New Year’s was a busy time for the U15 Youth League, and we found it difficult to keep up with everything going on in all four zones. Week 9 was the last of the season for the Goa Zone (Group C), while week 10 saw the last match of the Kolkata-Jamshedpur Zone (Group A) being played. This weekend, Week 11, saw the last match of the Maharashtra Zone (Group B) being played. Let’s catch up on everything we’ve missed, and see how Groups A, B and C ended the season!
Here’s a quick look at the scores of all the matches played over the last 3 weeks:
Viren Rasquinha, former captain of the Indian field hockey team, just wrote a heartfelt letter in the Indian Express to Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, India’s third largest state. In the letter, which is written in the context of the upcoming Rio Olympics this year, Rasquinha touches on some points that a lot of us sports fans in India feel very deeply about. And while it is written to an administrator in India, we believe that the points Viren has raised are applicable to cities and nations across the world.
Here are some of the issues that resonated with us:
We came across this video of George, a Gerard Deulofeu fan, uploaded by his dad, Dave Shaw on Twitter. Ain’t nothing going to stop this lad. What a great inspiration. A lot of us could do with some of that spirit!