Minerva Academy recommended for Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar, aim to play I-League again

Minerva also has a cricket Academy and a Services Selection Board (SSB) Academy.
Minerva also has a cricket Academy and a Services Selection Board (SSB) Academy.

Minerva Academy Football and Cricket Club has been recommended for the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar for producing notable Indian football talents by the Government of Punjab, Government of Haryana, and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).

Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar is awarded by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, to institutions promoting sports among the youth and producing talented young sportspersons . Previously, JSW Sports from the Indian football arena won the award in 2018.

Minerva: An Indian football factory

In recent years, Minerva Academy Football Club has possessed been one of the most successful football academies that supply talented youngsters to the Indian football scene. Their formidable youth development program has contributed to over 70 players to various age-group national teams in the recent years, way ahead of the highly prestigious Tata Football Academy, Jamshedpur.

It all started with the commencement of the scouting program of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for the U-17 World Cup, 2017. Minerva Academy had the highest number of players in the World Cup Squad behind the AIFF Elite Academy and Chandigarh Football Academy.

Jeakson Singh, Anwar Ali, Shahjahan, and Nongdamba Naorem Singh had transferred to Minerva from the Chandigarh Football Academy and were part of the Minerva side which defeated Luis Norton de Matos led-Indian U17 side in a scouting game. The result caused an uproar in the Indian football scene, and Minerva Academy got deserved recognition and released their top four players for the Indian national team at the U-17 World Cup.

Jeakson Singh scoring the solitary goal for India against Colombia in the U-17 World Cup, 2017.
Jeakson Singh scoring the solitary goal for India against Colombia in the U-17 World Cup, 2017.

The extensive production of players has also had its effect in the Youth Leagues hosted by the National Federation. The Warriors, as they call themselves, have won the U-16 AIFF Y-League for three consecutive years (2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18).

They recently won the U-13 Y-League 2017-18 and won first-ever U-18 Elite League in the 2018-19 season. The club won the I-League in their second season at the top flight in the 2017-18 season after finishing second in the I-League 2nd Division in 2015-16.

'It is a great honor to be recognized and nominated for a national award. We really hope that we win the award. It would be a great recognition for the coaches and staff around here,' said Ranjit Bajaj to Sportkseeda.

Newer ventures, similar territories

Ranjit Bajaj with the I-League Trophy.
Ranjit Bajaj with the I-League Trophy.

Minerva Academy Football Club, led by its founder Ranjit Bajaj, have sold their entire stake to Round Glass Inc. after series of successes at the grassroots, youth, and senior level in Indian football. Round Glass Inc. are hopeful of steering the existing football club to greater heights with an aim to play the Indian Super League in the 2021-22 season.

'We have selected around 50 boys and will select 30 more boys between the ages of 5-9 and will train them and allow them to tour the world and get the best training possible. The entire football infrastructure is still with Minerva Football Academy with all the staff and coaches. Hence, we will continue to participate in the Youth Leagues held by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), once the young boys get older. We will also participate in the I-League 2nd Division after two seasons. We are looking to play the I-League by the 2023-24 season when I-League winners would be promoted to the Indian Super League', informed Ranjit Bajaj when asked about his plans with Minerva Football Club.

Minerva Academy also runs a cricket academy and an academy to supply candidates to the Armed Forces by coaching them to crack the Services Selection Board (SSB) interview held by the Armed Forces to commission officers in the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Navy.

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Edited by S Chowdhury
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