THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

FC Pune City kick-starts grassroots development plan

FC Pune City kick-starts grassroots development plan
FC Pune City kick-starts grassroots development plan

Picture courtesy: IMG-Reliance / Hero Indian Super League (ISL)

FC Pune City appointed Spanish UEFA Pro Licensed coach, Jose Hevia as the director for grassroots development. The club, under the guidance of Hevia has launched a 3-phase grassroots development campaign that entailed a train-the-trainer program followed by in-school workshops, which finally leads into talent scouting festivals. The 3-month campaign has already garnered major support with many schools, coaching academies and NGOs participating in the campaign.

On 14th January 2015 FC Pune City conducted its first train-the-trainer program at St. Vincent’s High school that was attended by 28 coaches, physical education teachers and parents. Jose Hevia started the program by sharing details of the club’s grassroots development plans while expressing the importance of such train-the-trainer programs for the development of football locally. He further carried out a theory session that was followed by a practical session where Hevia demonstrated key factors of being a football trainer. Post lunch all the attendees were put into a live coaching environment where they were asked to train children as per the tasks given by Hevia. The train-the-trainer program ended with the principal of St. Vincent’s High School, Father Andrew sharing his thoughts on the grassroots plans. He then along with Piet Hubers (Head – ISL grassroots development) felicitated all the attendees with certificates.

Following up to the train-the-trainer program, FC Pune City carried out workshops in 25 schools across the city where children between 9 to 13 years were given basic football coaching with the primary aim of introducing the sport to many who haven’t had opportunity to touch, feel, experience football. The workshops were planned and executed by Hevia along with his support staff, however the school PE teachers were also made to conduct the workshop under the presence of Hevia. These PE teachers further conduct similar training to their respective students in their own schools. From that perspective FC Pune City’s grassroots Programme has already touched more than 25,000 kids. The club also made it a point to meet with the various school principals to inform and discuss FC Pune City’s various grassroots development plans. The workshops are an on going process where the club will cover over 50 schools by the end of March.

FC Pune City had earlier announced that St. Vincent’s high school would be the development center for the club, hence the school played host to the 3 football festivals conducted till date. The festivals had an overwhelming response with over 1000 talented footballers in attendance that were between the age groups of 8 to 13 years. Jose Hevia along with the club’s assistant coach Steven Charles carried out the talent scouting festivals with the assistance of 12 city-based coaches. The ground was divided into 6 smaller pitches that had 16 children under the supervision of 2 coaches carrying out different aspects of the scouting program such as warm ups, drills and a game. Hevia and Charles along with their team evaluated the children on various aspects of the sport such as game sense, ball control, passing, dribbling, agility and attitude. Children were given refreshments and as part of an engagement activity they were also asked to leave messages for their favorite FC Pune City players on a graffiti wall.

Speaking on the occasion, Gaurav Modwel, CEO, FC Pune City stated, “The grassroots program has been conceptualized keeping in mind the need of the hour- efficient coaching for children at a stage where their skills need to be developed and honed. Furthermore, the unique train-the-trainer is an initiative that lends skill and training to coaches and helps them further enhance their techniques for better learning. We hope to reach out to as many young football enthusiasts with this program as possible.”

FC Pune City will be conducting another 3 festivals until the end of March to cover over 2000 kids who are being scouted to join the club’s football academy. Even though the current grassroots campaign focuses on children below 14 years, FC Pune City will be running similar festivals and workshops to scout talent for the club’s U-17 and U-19 squads.