With recent exposure to the I-League youth competition and visits from international players like Jofre Mateu, football has been on the rise in Anantapur. After a very progressive season, Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) kicked off their annual summer football camp on May 1st. Held in collaboration with Spanish football club C. F. Santvicenti, the camp created an air of excitement amongst the kids and coaches, like it does every year. M P Ricard returned to this year’s ASA football summer camp for the third consecutive year to enjoy yet another immersive and educative experience with the children in Anantapur .
Before the training with the C F Santvicenti coaches got underway, 44 girls and 80 boys between the ages of 17 and 19 arrived at Anantapur Sports Village (ASV) ready to learn and grow from the experience. The stage was set for something special, and that’s precisely what happened over the next week. The language spoken was broken English, yet communication was never an issue. The kids gave it everything they had, and the coaches did the same. The positive energy created by everyone on the football pitch was absolutely extraordinary. Over the course of the 7-day camp, children and coaches formed a stellar bond with each other. This was evident at the closing ceremony on May 8th, where everyone involved had a few tears in their eyes as they bid their goodbyes.
“This exposure motivates kids to push themselves to reach the next level. Though the camp is short, it inspires the kids to play football more regularly and take what they learnt back to their local clubs and village teams.” – P. Vijaybhaskar, Senior Coach, ASV Academy
During the camp, children enjoyed 14 intensive two-hour sessions of drills and 6v6 matches that were encompassed by Spanish football chants and celebrations. Through these sessions, the kids were taught about the beautiful game. They learnt to hone their ball control, shooting and goalkeeping skills. But that isn’t all, the camp also focused on promoting social growth and teaching the children important values.
“We try and show them more than football. We try to make them happy and let them enjoy themselves. We also teach them values like honesty, friendship and teamwork.” – M P Ricard
While the camp was predominantly about the kids enjoying themselves as they honed their skills, ASA used the training grounds as an opportunity to conduct selections for their U17 and U19 ASV Academy teams. An academy coach and a Santvicenti coach were assigned to every group during the camp to scout the best talent Anantapur has to offer. But the final selections were left to the team of coaches from C.F Santvicenti who judged the players based on their tactical and technical knowledge of the game.
The summer camp is one of the ways in which ASA hopes to mould not only better sportsmen and sportswomen, but also talented and intelligent young individuals who can become catalysts for social change in their society. This is the broader perspective that Rural Development Trust (RDT) is trying to work towards through ASV and its other sporting initiatives.
Contributed by Kabeer Arjun