ISL is a giant attraction and every player from our country wants to play in it, says Raman Vijayan
- Get to know the efforts of former Indian striker Raman Vijayan on setting up and running a football academy in a non-footballing state.
What is the life after retirements for the sport-persons who play professionally, mostly they venture into punditry or coaching?
But peoples who choose coaching may be of the opinion that through this they can give back something to the game by finding and nurturing new talents.
This is all about one such person named Raman Vijayan- Former Indian Striker, on how he returns the favor to the game through his Noble Football Academy and RVSS in Tamil Nadu.
Vijayan started the noble football academy back in 2009 at Karaikudi (interior part of TN). From the first batch, he almost accommodated 60+ students from 3600, who attended the summer camp.
After a couple of years, he shifted the academy to Chennai and recruited students across Tamil Nadu by conducting trails at summer every year. This year alone, his academy has conducted trails at three different cities across TN.
In 2016, he started the Raman Vijayan Soccer school which is a commercial project more of a European soccer school format and had UEFA A license holder Ivor Gumm in the initial year to overseen it and successfully replaced him with another UEFA holder Colombian David Torres.
Here are the following excerpts from the interview with him :
SK: What made you open a football academy and what is the perspective behind it
RV: Noble football academy was started in 2009 with the idea of finding and developing talented kids in remote villages who lacked exposure in TN.
And people from this academy who made it to ISL and I-League are Pandian Sinivasan (Chennaiyin FC-upcoming season) and Raja Pandi Soundarapandian (Chennai City FC) and more players from this academy are plying their trade in Super division in Bangalore and Chennai.
It was a personal achievement and self-learning experience for me in the eight years since the inception and I believe this is a proper youth development program and through this continuation, we give chances to players every year till their twelfth standard under state board (English and Tamil medium) and bear and took care of all the expenses like food, training, and accommodation.
SK: Opinion on the Success of Pandian and its impact on academy's upcoming stars
RV: You can expect more players from our academy for sure and it will be a test for me. Frankly, I never thought Pandian to reach this height sooner while he joined the academy and initially I had a doubt on his physical weakness at a small age, but his basics were good so I worked two years continuously with him as being the first batch and he made it with minimal facilities.
SK: Difficulties in running footballing academies in terms of financial and other factors
RV: My Friend Jeeva was like another pillar to this academy's financial stability and SDAT supported me for six years by offering food allowances to the wards and for the last two we managed to bear all the expenses including food.
We started a Raman Vijayan Soccer School two years back, which is a commercial project through which we provide high-class coaching and training to the students and now it remains the pillar of Noble football academy and we are managing.
SK: In future will you sign an MOU with top Clubs mainly with CFC and CCFC?
RV: So far, I haven't done that but if anyone interested I am ready because there is a term known as development fee for an academy to be a feeding centre for players. It exists all over the world including our country. So as I said, if anyone interested, I am open to it.
SK: Impacts of Two top Clubs in a state and influence of Chennaiyin FC second title triumph in TN
RV: ISL is a giant attraction and every player from our country wants to play in it and naturally believes it is where you get recognised all over by performing with the top players.
Chennaiyin has influenced the way the football is seen in the state by becoming second-time champions and there is no shortage of talents in south and people celebrated Dhanapal Ganesh as their own and luckily he was playing a maximum number of matches and he has given hope for the local players.
With Pandian too joining him in the upcoming season, there is an increase in local flavour and awareness about professionalism expands.
I was seeing the different world on the opening day of RVSS summer camp this season with parents of almost 40 kids has shown tremendous interest and this shows football has grown up from the radars of cricket.
SK: On Expanding RVSS outside TN like Baichung Bhutia Soccer school
RV: I don't have interest in expanding RVSS outside TN truthfully, other than a commercial element.
I want the local lads to get top facilities and exposure and with it, I want them to beat other top teams from pan India.
There were coaches who recruit players from outside and form a team but I don't believe in that philosophy.
In a foreseeable future, I want a team comprised of local boys to beat the best in the future.
SK: On Expansion of RVSS in Tamil Nadu
RV: Once after stabilizing Chennai School, we were planning to expand towards Coimbatore, which is ecologically and economically stable conditions.
SK: Message for the aspiring kids
RV: I want today's kids to be more practical and realistic and not to blindly follow the game. There is a gigantic difference between spectator football and professional football.
You can't become a professional footballer from starting out at age of 17 unless you possess an extraordinary talent. I want them to be more realistic.
SK: On his Favorites in the upcoming world cup
RV: I used to support Brazil but there is a slight difference since the catastrophic 7-1 defeat to Germany.
Other than Brazil, I am always in awe of German’s consistency in the world cup and they were far superior in planning and moreover, their league has a more local flavour which contributes to the national team.
But as always, my first pick is Brazil and I am a big fan of Romario.