The credit for making football popular in India goes to football academies that train kids in the game. Kids of all ages join these academies to learn the rules and basics like dribbling, penalty corner, penalty shots, and defending goals. Footballers coming out fresh from the academies join football clubs and participate in championship tournaments.
India is fast becoming a football country and this is evident from the number of tournaments held in the country. Football tournaments are held at the club level and national level. Also, India participates in international tournaments.
Indian Super League is the most popular club-level tournament held every year from October to March. Presently 12 clubs from various states participate in the tournament and compete for the League Winners Shield.
1. Tata Football Academy (Tata FA or TFA)
Founded: 1987, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand
Tata Steel Sports Foundation started Tata Football Academy in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand in 1987. The academy was started to strengthen Tata Steel’s commitment to sports. The legendary footballer Chuni Goswami was its first director from 1986 to 1989. Former Indian footballer Arun Gosh also served as director of TFA from 1997 to 2003. The academy trains kids in the age group of U12 to 15. Its state-of-the-art facility and experienced coaching staff have produced great footballers.
2. Sesa Football Academy (SFA)
Founded: 1999, Sanquelim, Goa
SFA is one of the most successful football academies in the country as it has produced many great footballers including Adil Khan, Denzil Franco, Micky Fernandes, and Pratesh Shirodkar. Alumni of this club have played for the national football team and Indian Super League. Also, some of its players have become international. Today it runs two residential campuses where kids are provided accommodations and all necessary facilities including medical care during their training programs.
3. Mohun Bagan SG (Youth)
Founded: 2002, Durgapur West Bengal
The legendary football club, Mohun Bagan took the initiative to launch a football academy to train youths of the country in football. The club collaborated with the Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) to get financial help to set up a fully-functional academy where kids from all over the country could learn football. Today the academy team is one of the most successful teams in the country. They have won many championships including the Final Round of the Nike Premier Cup (Under-14) in 2006.
4. Indian Tigers Football Academy (ITFA)
Founded: 2008, Juhu, Mumbai
Former Chelsea players Gareth Hall, David Lee, and Clive Walker formed ITFA in the year 2008. It was a great initiative by three legendary footballers who have played in international tournaments for one of the finest clubs in the world. Their objective was to locate talent and produce footballers who win matches. Also, they started at a large scale by organizing sports camps for kids. They train kids for both national and club-level teams.
5. Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools (BBFS)
Founded: 2010, New Delhi
Dedicated to football, the former captain of the Indian football team Bhaichung Bhutia started his academy to train kids in football. His objective was to encourage kids to take an interest in football. He started BBFS in association with a Portuguese football academy Football by Carlos Queiroz (FBCQ) in New Delhi in 2013. His objective is to make his academy inclusive by enrolling kids from underprivileged sections of society. The academy trains kids in the age group of 5 to 15.
6. Boca Juniors Football School
Founded: 2013, Bengaluru, Karnataka
The founding of Boca Juniors Football School was an initiative of an Argentine football club renowned for producing footballers of the stature of Diego Maradona and Gabriel Bautista. The academy started on a large scale intending to expand to other cities. In 2016, the academy opened its branch in Mumbai. It was its first branch outside Karnataka and it was as successful as the Bengaluru center. This club takes its students to Argentina on sports trips.
7. Arsenal Soccer Schools India
Founded: 2013, Delhi
Arsenal FC decided to open a football academy in India and executed its play in 2013. Soon the academy started its operation from its overseas center in Delhi, India. Soon it expanded to other states as well. Today it runs multiple training centers across the length and breadth of the country. It provides training to children aged 5-17 that become great footballers in their youth.
8. Paris Saint-Germain Academy India
Founded: 2014, Delhi-NCR
Paris Saint-Germain Academy India is a football academy started by the leading French football club Paris Saint-Germain. The academy started on a small note but soon caught the attention of the great footballers of the country. Paris Saint-Germain Academy India started its second training center in Bengaluru. Today it provides a one-year full-time training program to train kids in the game. Also, it has tailored its programs to suit and strength level of the players.
9. Reliance Foundation Young Champs
Founded: 2015, Navi Mumbai, Mumbai, Maharashtra
One of the leading football academies in the country, Reliance Foundation Young Champs is doing a commendable job in the field of sports. It has taken the responsibility to develop football culture in the country. Presently it works only from its Navi Mumbai center but has plans to expand to other parts of the country. Recently Reliance Foundation Young Champs won the 2019 Vedanta Youth Cup in Goa.
10. DSK Shivajians Academy
Founded: 2016, Pune, Maharashtra
DSK Shivajians Academy was formed with the collaboration of Liverpool FC of England. It was a strategic partnership to provide increase the standard of training provided to footballers in India. The partnership proved fruitful for the kids and teenagers of the country. They got an opportunity to learn football from those who have rich experience playing for various international clubs. Today the club is credited with producing some of the best footballers in the country.
Football academies are training kids at a young age so they become great footballers on growing up. The good thing is that there is a football club in every city so children can learn football from legends. Also, there are many football tournaments and championships to encourage players and teams.