We aim to build a broader base of players: Scott O’Donell

 Nilanjan Datta

 The wait is nearing its end. Come May and the first Regional Academy in Mumbai will kick-off. In an exclusive interview with www.the-aiff.com, Scott O’Donell, Technical Manager for the Regional and Elite Academies, speaks extensively about the vision of the Academies, the kids who have been scouted and much more. EXCERPTS:

Scott O’Donnell makes a point to kids during the Academy Trials in Delhi

When is the first Regional Academy starting?
The first Regional Academy begins in Navi Mumbai’s Father Agnel School from May 1, 2012. The other Regional Academies would follow suit.

What exactly is the vision of these Academies?
The Academies intend to provide quality coaching to the kids in a professional environment under qualified coaches. The aim stays to build up a broader base of players for the various age-group National Teams. There are plans of having four more Regional Academies in 2013.

The Academies would allow the kids to train in a professional environment on a regular basis, a facility which has eluded them in the past.

You have been scouting talent over the last few months at different venues. What do you make of the boys that you have scouted so far?
There have been trials in various places all over the country. We have identified some very promising players. Also, the co-operation of the State Coaches and the Administrators in the various venues, have been very encouraging indeed.

Would the kids also be attending academic sessions? What is the role of education in the Academies?
Education is just as important as football. The kids have to take it seriously. Obviously, the parents would be sending their kids to the Academies as they have football in mind. But we need to make sure they continue with their studies as well. It’s important to produce good footballers but it’s more important to produce good people.

What more do you prescribe for India as far as Youth Development is concerned?
It’s impossible for the All India Football Federation to take care of the Youth Development Structure in such a vast country like India. We also need the co-operation of the Clubs and the existing Academies in this regard.