Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Scott's Indian summer
Scott O'Donell has begun a new chapter in developing youth football... in India. As the newly-appointed National Academies Manager, O'Donell will lead a joint project between football's world governing body FIFA and the All India Football federation to set up regional academies and an elite academy over the next two years. For phase 1 of the project, four residential regional centers will be set up in Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi by the end of this March. "We will be selecting the players from the U-14 national festival as well as other trials to be conducted. There are already some private academies in India and a few clubs have their own but the quality varies," commented the Australian coach. Each academy will house about 30 boys and they will undergo a two-year stint in the regional academy where accommodation, food and education will be funded by the AIFF. The next phase, by March 2013, will see academies in Goa, Chennai, Chandigarh and Kerala come on board. The elite academy will be take boys from the age of 16 from the regional centers for two years before they become eligible to join professional clubs. This focus on developing youth football in India is a determined attempt by the Indian football federation to take their football to a new level in the future. O'Donnell, who had two stints as the national coach for Cambodia as well as a successful coaching spell at Geylang United in Singapore, is also a FIFA coaching instructor and pundit on ESPN/Star Sports. He will be working closely with the Dutch technical director at the AIFF, Rob Baan. O'Donell is no stranger to developing grassroots football, having worked closely with Bouy Dary to set up the Phnom Penh Crown Academy last year.