Peninsula Pune Football Club Academy (PPFCA) Director Ranjan Chowdhury is eager and focused ahead of the U-19 I-League.
The feeling comes quite obviously since the team comprises of fresh Cadets, has a new set of technical personnel in his midst and above all carries the weight of expectations.
After actively playing a major part as Head Youth Development in PPFCA’s twin-title triumph in the U-19 I-League (formerly U-20), Chowdhury this season has a role with bigger responsibility.
In a free-wheeling interview, Chowdhury spoke to the Pune FC Media Team on a host of topics.
Your thoughts on donning the Academy Director role after being Head Youth Development previously…
The workload this year has increased considerably with the addition of the Under-10 and 13 teams to existing junior setup (Under-15, 17 and 19) swelling the Peninsula Pune Football Club Academy (PPFCA) to five teams. I’m happy for the smooth flow of activity which is possible because the ‘team behind the team’ is working effectively and efficiently as per plan. Being an Academy director, I review and asses every program of each group regularly. Every week we conduct a meeting for all the coaches where we discuss and devise plans for specific groups and review sessions from the past week.
What is the expectation from the two-time champion Under-19 side?
Apart from 3 to 4 players from the group, the team this year is completely new. Since the start of this season, we have adopted a new playing system throughout all our age group teams. But primarily, our team’s character is based on counter-attacking football. As far as expectations are concerned: it’s an open secret that we all want to win. But, our main philosophy is to win games by playing good quality of football.
How do you analyse the Academy model after several promoted juniors are now key players in senior team?
The players are not just getting promoted into the senior team, but playing an extended role. This is a testament to our strong Academy structure. Right from our Under-10s to our senior team, we are following the same system of playing. This is a first in India.
Could you describe the progress made by the Academy over the three years of existence?
The current set at the Academy is the second batch and a lot of progress has been made on and off the pitch in the past few years. While silverware is what we play for, as mentioned earlier, we have progressed a lot by having more teams this season. Also, we’ve begun the education module for the players. Very soon, we will be shifting to a new premise where everything will be under one roof. But still, we have a long way to go.
Tell us more about the club’s focus on grass-root development…
For the first time since 2009-2010 we have given a lot of importance to grass-root development. Results have been forthcoming, which includes a Trophy from the Under-12s. That apart, we have 3-4 players who are technically very good and can be a big asset for our country in the future. There has been a lot of participation from local parents and this has led to lot of youngsters attending our Soccer Schools. There are more than 200 boys training at our club in various age groups. Moreover, the penetration in schools has risen in the past two years, which again as I always say is the result of hard-work from not just the technical team but from all from the Pune FC family.