"We are planning to create an academy" - Inter Kashi head coach Carlos Santamarina on the club's vision for the future

Carlos Santamaria was announced as the head coach of the new club Inter Kashi.
Carlos Santamaria was announced as the head coach of the new club Inter Kashi. (Image Courtesy: Inter Kashi Media)

The news of Inter Kashi's entry into the Indian football fray was a head-turner of sorts of plenty.

After parting ways with Atletico de Kolkata, not many expected Atletico Madrid to partner a club in the country once again so readily. However, the ambition of the Spanish giants is well-known and the announcement was welcomed with joy.

Their decision to focus on a club from Uttar Pradesh, a state not known for its football fandom, was also a pleasant surprise. As the cherry on top, coach Carlos Santamarina announced during a virtual interaction on Tuesday (September 12) that Inter Kashi are planning to launch an academy in the state in the near future.

"Sure. 100 percent, sure [on whether Inter Kashi will make an academy]," the 46-year-old said to select media outlets.
"This first season we didn't have much time and we are already making our main team in record time as the season is starting in a few days. But when the season starts we start working not just from here but even from Madrid about the next steps. The next step includes working with the youth.
"So yes, we are planning to create an academy, based in Varanasi. We have to still think about the strategy and of course, Atletico Madrid will provide the technical support, the coaches, and all the learnings we need to create a great academy. Our plan is to bring in kids right from the age of five."

Although he couldn't specify a date from when the academy would be initiated, he stressed that Atletico Madrid aren't investing in the initiative just on a short-term basis.

"If Atletico is here, they are not thinking about just one season," Santamarina said.

Carlos Santamarina says Indian players are "technically very good and tactically disciplined"

Carlos Santamarina has had ample experience when it comes to the grassroots in India. He was at the Tata Football Academy from 2019 and also manager of the Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Jamshedpur FC's reserve team during the 2021-22 season.

Hence, asked about the quality of Indian players, the Inter Kashi head coach said:

"In my humble opinion, India is not culturally a footballing country. I know they have playing football for a very long time, but they need to improve in terms of understanding the game.
"The players are technically very good and tactically disciplined. They are hard workers but need to develop some small things that make the difference between winning and losing 1-0."

"We need time but we'll try to work hard" - Carlos Santamarina on how Inter Kashi are preparing for the I-League season

Carlos Santamarina also discussed the current situation of the club, who sat out of the Durand Cup 2023 and were late to start their team-building process.

Inter Kashi have signed former Jamshedpur FC defender Peter Hartley, veteran goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharja, Sumeet Passi, and midfielder Sehnaj Singh this summer. All four players boast ISL experience. They also brought in Spanish winger Jordan Lamela, and Mario Barco.

The squad has been training for two weeks so far ahead of the 2023-24 I-League season. Explaining the progress so far, Santamarina said in response to a query from Sportskeeda:

"The team is growing day by day. We are working hard, having double sessions on most days, and playing friendly games. Yes, we need time but we'll try to work hard. We want to achieve our goals and like [Atletico Madrid manager] Diego Simeone always says, 'We work day by day and game by game.'
"Of course, we aren't like the team who played in the Durand Cup or have a set block of players for let's say the past two years. We start from zero but we'll give our best, you shouldn't have any doubt about that," Santamarina further added.

When asked about the philosophy that is imbibed by Inter Kashi from their collaborators in Spain, Santamarina added:

"The philosophy as I told you is pretty simple. For the main team, we want to win. And then the next steps will be to create an academy and work with the same Atletico Madrid methodology. With support from Madrid, we want to share all our knowledge with the coaches back here. It's a process, a long-term process."

For those invested in witnessing the growth of this prodigal club from a state not renowned for it's love for football, the hope will not just be to see Inter Kashi prosper. Supports will also be keen to see their grassroots initiatives that could potentially alter the footballing landscape in Uttar Pradesh.

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