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Volume 1. Issue 9. Off Season 2012.


foot notes In our off season issue, we try and encapsulate the spirit of football in India through 7 different stories from various parts of our country- from New Delhi to Durgawadi- we came across some exhilarating yet inspiring tales which define our country’s passion for the beautiful game. We also lead you to the Nehru cup with a precursor feature on it accompanied by an article by senior Team India and Churchill Brothers player- Steven Dias. As India chases its 3rd consecutive Nehru Cup, it remains to be seen how new coach- Wim Koevermans copes with the current squad and manages them against teams like Cameroon and Syria who come in with a pedigree of their own. Recapturing India’s gallant show at the Under-22 AFC Cup, we share all the match reports from the tournament. We also profile upcoming Dempo stopper- Rowilson Rodrigues in the Young Player section and feature top Indian players who have been appearing for trials for European clubs in the off-season. We also have a report on the expected return of Rovers Cup next year. I hope that other regular features like ‘Clicked Barefoot’ continue to enthrall our readers. Hope you have good read. Aniket Mishra Editor

TO ADVERTISE CONTACT: barefoot@sportsjournal.in mail@sportsjournal.in +91 99118 85829

Editor Aniket Mishra Creative Head Neelesh Vineet Saran Marketing Head Shubham Garg Editorial Team Sajin Padiyath Isha Panwar K.S. Yashaswini Editor of Photography and Design Syed Md. Hamza Marketing Modhulika Bose Harshal Agarwal Contributors Bharathan Chandrasekaran Amlan Jyoti Das Amrit Pradhan Sajin Padiyath Souvik Naha K.S. Yashaswini Isha Panwar Neelesh Vineet Saran and Steven Dias


CONTENTS CLICKED BAREFOOT pg 4 Young Player Profile: Rowilson Rodrigues pg12 Precursor to the Nehru Cup pg14 We can make it three in a row : Steven Dias pg16

COVER STORY

Encapsulating the spirit of football in India The Ball Project pg19 Ready to Rise: United Sikkim FC pg21 The soon to be Dr. Deepak Mehra pg23 Youth Soccer League Organisation pg25 Pepsi Changes the Game pg27 Nagaland Premier Leaguepg28 PIFA pg29 AFC Under 22 Championship pg 31 Rovers Cup set for a 2013 return pg 33 Foreign exposure for Indian Stars pg 34


clicked barefoot

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photography by Syed Hamza 5


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photography by Syed Hamza 7


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photography by Syed Hamza 9


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photography by Syed Hamza 11


young player profile

Young Player Profile: Rowilson Rodrigues Born in Margao on 26 March 1987 into a middle class Goan family, Rodrigues took to the sport as a 12 year old playing for fun until he was persuaded by his neighbour to appear for the SESA Football Academy trials. He coached under former Goan footballers Anthony Desouza and Vishwas Gaonkar at the Academy about whom he gratefully says, “Both of them have had the biggest influence on my career. They put their faith in me and helped me develop my game. I remain indebted to them.” He began his career playing for the SESA F.A. or SFA team for the next four years and there has been no looking back, hence. Rodrigues got a call from Goan club Churchill Brothers with whom he played in the 2010-11 I League season, after which he was snapped up by local rivals Dempo SC. The changeover from one big city club to its rival has definitely improved his game while providing much needed experience and opportunities. In his words, “At Dempo, I got a chance to learn a lot. There are so many quality players around. Mahesh bhai (Gawli), Cli|12


max Lawrence, Clifford Miranda have been so helpful and supportive. They are big stars but never for a moment did they boast about it.” This season saw him essay the role of one of Dempo’s most reliable defenders as the club went on to win its fifth I League title in a most commendable manner, topping the league table after conceding just 21 goals in 26 matches. A great display of defense, indeed, for someone playing his second season in the clash of the country’s biggest football clubs.

Dempo’s Assistant Coach Mauricio Alfonso has christened him as a ‘big match player’ and goes on to add that whereas match temperament defines a player, Rowilson has always risen to the occasion and has been exceptional this season – keeping his nerves under control and not allowing rivals to gain the upper hand. Mahesh Gawli is all praises for the young lad in the Dempo fold. “He is a promising talent and likes to dominate on the field. He stays agile and is someone who is diffi-

cult to beat. These qualities make him stand out among others,” says the veteran about Rodrigues. Rodrigues, for his part, genuinely appreciates the sporting ethic of Dempo when he says that, “The coaches, support staff and the management are very supportive. Importantly, there are no factions in the side. The club stays the right place for any player.” (Based on an AIFF media release)

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feature

Indian Team after the recent SAFF triumph

Nehru Cup 2012

By Isha Panwar

Well into August, India will host the 15th edition of the Nehru Cup, now known as ONGC Nehru Cup. The international tournament, organized by the AIFF, was first held in 1982 but was discontinued between 1998- 2006 for lack of sponsorship. Envisioned as an annual tournament, it was only held every alternate year since 1989 till its shelving in 1998. The inaugural edition was won by Uruguay which defeated China 2-0 on the 4th of March that year after matches with |14

teams like Italy, Yugoslavia, India and South Korea in the typical round robin format. The 1997 title saw Iraq taking the title home. Bob Houghton, to his credit, saw the need for more competitive action for Team India, then languishing in stagnation and facing professional woes. Soon, the Nehru Cup was resuscitated. In 2007, India beat Syria 1-0 even after losing to them in an earlier fixture. The 2009 edition saw a repeat of the previous final as India emerged winners in a tournament

that was tipped heavily in favour of their opponents, Syria, a team that had survived without a loss in the entire round robin format. India, which had to do without their skipper Bhaichung Bhutia after the first two matches, saw a shot in the arm when he returned to the starting XI in the final. A much needed inspiration, indeed, as this was a match where India would meet a team that had defeated them earlier and involved a psychologically more daunting task of facing an opponent ranked 61 places above


them in the FIFA rankings, at 95, and one which had not conceded any goal thus far. The final was held on the hot evening of 31st August and progressed into becoming a cracker of a spectacle as neither scored nor conceded any goals. This continued even at full time and beyond but Renedy Singh scored the breakthrough in the 117th minute on penalty. The uproarious atmosphere was unmatched as India went ahead to win 5-4 in penalties. Goalkeeper Subrata Paul saved the penalty which won the game and the title for India. What was more noteworthy and heartening was the sup-

port that turned up for the home team in the form of swarming crowds which even clogged the traffic around the venue, Ambedkar Stadium, in New Delhi. The Sikkimese Sniper completed 100 international matches in the final and topped it off with a delightful victory. Now, what we can hope for is a replay of the same when the 2012 ONGC Nehru Cup gets underway on 23rd August in New Delhi. Maldives, Nepal, Syria and the 59th ranked Cameroon have confirmed their participation. Watch out for the final on September 2nd and keep your fingers crossed as India will look to defend its two successive titles.

Lalrindika and Gurpreet at the preparatory camp 15


We can make it three in a row Steven Dias - one of the most recognised Indian footballers from recent times and an integral part of the victorious Nehru Cup Indian teams from 2007 and 2009 writes for Barefoot sharing his experience in the two editions of the tournament. Always dangerous from free kicks and set-pieces, his crossing ability and performances came into the spot light having scored 3 goals and creating several others in the competition. The 28-year old writes about then national coach Bob Houghton, his team mates and also expresses his disappointment having not made the squad this time around. The Nehru Cup has been one of the most special tournaments that I have played in my career. The tournament was important not only because it was the first major tournament held in India in a long time but also that by eventually winning the tournament people realised that Indian football exists. Also, for my personal career it was a major tournament as it brought a lot of recognition to all the players. Playing in front of the home crowd is a special feeling. I think Delhi is the best crowd |16

I have played for; they always come in numbers and cheer for us. I remember the first game of Nehru Cup in 2007; I was very nervous because it was a big tournament and Bob Houghton was a new coach to me. But the way Bob dealt with the players, the way he used to motivate, teach and inspire us – was something different than any other coach I have played for. Only after his arrival did I as a player realised what professional football is all about. He was the best coach I have

ever played under. Also the presence of strikers of the quality of Sunil Chhetri and Baichung Bhutia were really important. If they would not have had converted the chances the midfielders created for them, nobody would have remembered us nor the tournament. The entire tournament has been so special for me it is hard to pick out a few solitary moments from the two editions of the Nehru Cup. The experience of playing in the first final in 2007 was something amazing. After our


feature loss to Syria in the group stage of the competition Bob did not say a single word in criticism nor did he point out any mistakes. This not only helped us but also inspired us when we went on to play them again in the final. Also the way Bob inspired by us in the dressing room before the final – making us realise this was our opportunity to do something huge for Indian football, had us wanting to win the game not only for the country and ourselves - but also for the coach himself. We won that final with N.P Pradeep scoring a fine goal just before half time. When the next edition came in 2009 there was pressure as defending champions that we would win the trophy again. As a team how-

ever we hardly felt the pressure as we were very confident of putting up a good show. The majority of the team had remained unchanged from 2007 and by this time there was a special bonding among the players as well as the coaching staff. The addition of Lebanon made the tournament more competitive. We had played against Lebanese sides a few times in both club and national competitions. We met Syria in the final again in 2009. The final this time around went to the penalties after two goals in the extra-time - a free kick from Renedy Singh was cancelled out by a late Syrian equaliser. I can never forget the walk from the centre circle to the penalty kick to the penalty spot in

front of the packed crowd. Tired minds and legs, the de-motivation of conceding a last minute goal and the expectations of the crowd added to the pressure. Initially I did not want to take the penalty but Bob again motivated and inspired me to take the spot kick. Fortunately I scored the penalty and we won the shoot-out to win the Nehru Cup for the second time. Coming into this year’s tournament, I am obviously disappointed and a bit surprised not to have made the squad. After having played in the SAFF Cup last year which we won, I am disappointed to have not made the cut but I am confident that I would come back to the National side with my performances in the upcoming season.

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COVER STORY


cover story

The Ball Project By Sajin Padiyath

Take a Sunday evening stroll through Hari Om Nagar in the Mulund suburb of Mumbai and you are likely tobump into three affluent youngsters playing with what would seem slum dwellers. Take a closer look and you find them not only playing with the kids but also imparting them essential lessons and life-skills. Rohit D’ Souza (28),an AIFF licensed coach, along with his friends Prajakt Patil (29) and Rupali Shedge Warang(28), incidentally both of whom are architects, have been conducting such sessions every Sunday for a good part the last three years. They call it the Ball Project. Duragwadi is a slum settlement around a dumping ground at Mulund in Mumbai. Comprising of around 80 families, their livelihood comes from what could be crudely put down as waste segregation. Their livelihood depends on waste segregation and the current third-generation families of the settlement have come to accept the dumping ground as a part their lives. “For them

this is their lifestyle. Although our society might see them as slum-dwellers, we accept them as they are.” says Rohit D’Souza co-founder of the Ball Project. Started in August 2009 by co-founders Prajakt and Rohit, the Ball Project have continued to inspire and more importantly inform the settlement dwellers, from the youngest to the eldest, on the basic essentials of life. This they do through weekly sessions of play and learning. Although the initial attempt was to educate, empower and develop them through sport they had to begin with imparting them with basic knowledge of numbers and direction. “Everything was new to them. They had never known of a concept of sports and had to be taught the basics of everything, not just sport.” explains Rohit. Rohit adds “In fact Play, Recreation and Sports are separate entities with Play being an unorganised form of entertainment and Sports being the most structured and organised form of any game

with rigid rules and regulations. We had to begin with teaching them how to play and just have fun and be entertained. Now, after three years we are in transition from Play to Recreation, where we could discipline their lives by adding rules to the games they play. We now teach them the basics of football and other sports.” Having previously worked with MagicBus, an NGO in Mumbai, Rohit had prior experience of working with the lesser privileged section of the society. Here in Durgawadi, he started with simple sessions where children played together and were introduced to idea of teams and rules. The play sessions worked like informal education where they imparted lessons on daily-life and more. With time and patience Rohit and his friends started learning a lot more about the kids and created various activities for kids of different age groups, talent and interests. Getting girls involved in the activities was yet another challenge but now the energy levels shown 19


by the girls in the sessions are at par with boys. Even the adults participate in the sessions now as they could not hold themselves back watching their kids play. “Through these sessions the kids and adults both have learnt the importance of cleanliness, discipline, protecting the body from injuries and so on. We had to show them how footwear can prevent injuries to get them to wear shoes. The others follow soon as they watch and learn.” says Rohit. Rohit doesn’t believe in providing the families with financial support or freebies of any kind. “A lot of NGOs and families take pity on them and provide them with free food

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and clothing. What they don’t realise is that they are not exactly poor as most of the kids earn around Rs.200 per day from selling and segregating the wastes. The dwellers are in need of discipline, education and culture and need to develop life skills which we focus on.” The Ball project doesn’t take in volunteers as they believe that anyone involved in the project should share their preciseoutlook toward the project. Only Rupali has joined hands with Rahul and Prajakt since the project’s inception. Rohit explains “We are afraid volunteers may not see things the same way as we do. Also volunteers with their sheer exuberance might give the

kids an overdose of information and the kids would be left confused. Their intentions are at right but we don’t need an already full cup overflowing.” Rohit is in the process of registering the Ball project as an NGO. Now after three years, he believes it is time to spread the project. Rohit claims he has benefitted more from this project than the settlement dwellers and their families. “I have learnt more about football and life from these kids than I have ever done in my life. The recognition and the networking are other byproducts of our work. People know me for the Project and the work we do.” he concludes.


cover story

Ready to Rise: United Sikkim FC Baichung Bhutia is a man on a mission. The mission to take topflight football to the North East. Most Professionals don’t last on the field until the age of 35; those that do are looking to kip down from their profession. Bhutia is 36; instead talking of retirement, the man who is the face of Indian Football is at the cusp of his latest and perhaps the most enterprising adventure and perhaps also his greatest-footaballing challenge. It was always Bhutia’s desire to take football into his home state, and tap the massive talent that exists in the state, and give something back to the sport and reciprocate the love and adulation of the people. The dream

took shape out of the blue; in a boardroom in Dubai’s ultra-modern commercial province. Bhutia was there for a training camp for the ASIAN CUP with the Indian team. His friend and now former agent, Navneet Sharma-now the CEO of FidelisWorld-introduced Bhutia to his chairman, Anand Krishnan. FidelisWorld is a fresh entrant into in the sports and entertainment market and is based in Dubai. Krishnan shared Bhutia’s vision for the development of Football in India. That’s how United Sikkim Football Club (USFC), with FidelisWorld as the majority share holder, and the likes of the famous singer Shankar Mahadevan and the newly formed multi-

conglomerate EMTA GROUP (SHIRT SPONSOR) and Baichung Bhutia who also has a stake in the club, this is how the dream became reality. The leading sports brand Nike Inc. is also the kit sponsor of “the SNOW LIONS”. United Sikkim Football Club is a healthy mix of Indian and overseas talent, with Indian internationals like the versatile defender NS Manju, the experienced attacker Bijen Singh, who has an eye for goals. Overseas recruits like the Nigerian trio of Babatunde John, Daniel Bedemi and Salao Nuruddin. They also have talented local players like Joseph Daniel and the TATA FOOTBALL ACADEMY graduate Karan Atwal. They have 21


an experienced coach and manager in form of Phillipe De Ridder, the Belgian who also has played for the now dissolved RWD Molenbeek in the Belgian League and also managed Calcuttan Giants East Bengal and also Chirag United (now Prayag United). In their first professional season they fought it out in the I-LEAGUE 2nd Division with the likes Mohammedan Sporting Club of Kolkata, Sporting Club de Goa of Goa and Shillong Lajong of Lajong contesting for getting promoted to the first division. They started their campaign well by drawing 1-1 against Sporting Club de Goa, who eventually got promoted with Shillong Lajong. They finished 5th in their first season of Profession|22

al Football, a commendable effort by the team. In their 2nd season in the I-LEAGUE 2nd Division they had a weaker team as the likes of Johnny Meyongkar, who was a Liberian international then, Joseph Lapira, the former Irish international and other player like M.Ichihara and Quinton Jacobs left the club. But then also with a weakened team they qualified for the Top-flight of Indian Football, the I-LEAGUE. In the I-LEAGUE 2nd Division preliminary stages,they were placed in Group C with the likes of ArHima, Aizawl, Southern Samity, Green Valley, Bhawanipore and Eagles. They topped the group with 13 points and qualified for the FINAL ROUND of 1-LEAGUE 2nd Division 2012. In the FINAL ROUND with some

fine performances by players like Daniel Bedemi and Joseph Daniel they finished 2nd with 21 pts with ONGC finishing first o having superior goal difference to United Sikkim FC. The whole of Sikkim was delighted by this piece of news and it was a total contrast as few months’ back Earthquake had struck Sikkim, due to the earthquake United Sikkim FC office was totally shed into dust. It was a PRESENT by Baichung Bhutia and team to the people of Sikkim. They made a history by breaking into the first division only after they formed were in 2011.Now the I-LEAGUE, the top –flight of INDIAN FOOTBALL beckons the SNOW LIONS. Watch out the Calcuttans’and the Goans’ for the SNOW LIONS. WE WISH


cover story

The soon to be Dr. Deepak Mehra Deepak Mehra was one of Barefoot’s first spotting, and half a year later we are looking again at the flight of this young footballer, whose wings are now well spread and soaring. Deepak Mehra, on any other day could be the average Delhi University student. More so a student because he is well on his way to obtaining a Ph D in physical education. What demystifies this image is the knowledge that this man’s shoes have kicked more goals than most others in the Santosh Trophy. He has come a long way from being the lad who took up hotel management for a career, only to ditch it within a year to pave way for his passionfootball. With initial stints at BB Star and Royal Football Club in Division A, he moved over to the Delhi United. It has proved him

and the club highly beneficial. Deepak’s effective movement and marksman like tendencies led to a flurry of goals and a second place finish in the 200910 season for Delhi United. Long and short term injuries had kept him away from the pitch for quite a period, but Mehra was one to prove his resilience. Now assessing his performance over the last two years he says, “I am satisfied but I could have done better if I would have given more playing time.” Considerably, he has made only one start in six matches. In that very game, against Andaman and Nicobar he had scored

a hat-trick. He has got only brief spells of 5-10 minutes on the field to prove himself as Delhi United has an abundance of senior talent in its squad. This however has not bowed Mehra down. “I will take it as a learning experience and m sure it will help me to improve my performance as there were good coaches and senior players who guided me in a positive manner.” This outing at Santosh Trophy was Deepak’s first and presumably he feels that it was a good time for a first time. The Delhi Soccer Association would have been proud of its boys for the kind of start it got at the 66th edition 23


of the Santosh Trophy. The first game against Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where Mehra added four assists to his hat-trick, Delhi beat ANI 13-0. Then it climbed up the cluster 1 ladder with wins over Gujarat and Jharkhand. However, at the knock-out stages Tamil Nadu and Railways dampened Delhi’s chances at the title even as they thrashed Mizoram 3-0 in their last game at the campaign. Mehra adds, “we defeated nearly every team we played.” His disappointment was overbearing when he emphasises that “the scoreline was really close with Tamil Nadu and the Railways.” Evidently he has carved his image from this tournament as a

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Deepak’s coach at Delhi UnitedPramod Rawat

person who shoots at will. Probe him a bit on what his plans are, following this short but successful tournament as a player, he answers as a team man. “My next step is to focus on the Delhi League and the 2nd Division at the I-League with my same old club- Delhi United Football Club”. What about his thesis on validation of soccer specific interval test on indian male soccer players? “I will try to complete my Ph D as soon as possible.” He is quick to point out that his “main aim is to play for the country” and that he will “work hard for that.” On this promising note, Barefoot winds up the chat with the inspired youngster.


cover story

Youth Soccer League Organisation By Isha Panwar

Jaipur has its own junior football league for three years now, thanks to the Youth Soccer League Organisation (YSLO). Founded in 2009 by Shubham Garg and Sohil Bhansali, YSLO, a registered trust, aims at organizing an Under-18 football league on the lines of popular cricket leagues in India with the purpose of promoting soc-

cer throughout the country by conducting tournaments, coaching camps etc. Besides Jaipur, it is involved in similar projects in cities like Delhi, Varanasi and Guwahati. The organization is being run by young and enthusiastic people who are committed towards the development of youth and the game of soccer. Their sponsors in-

clude Santokba Durlabhji Memorial Hospital (SDMH), AU Financiers, Sanga Automobiles, Unique Builders, MTS India, MY FM etc. Students of schools like Sawai Man Singh School, St Xavier’s, Neerja Modi, Delhi Public School (Jaipur), St. Anslems, IIS, Mayo College (Ajmer), Vidyashram etc. par25


ticipate in the league matches. League teams comprise players from different age groups and different schools. Say the founders, “This concept is initiated to develop the spirit of sportsmanship and provide a friendly environment to upcoming players and help build a passion for the game.� The League is a 10 day- long football festival which sees the participation of more than 200 players every year. Each team is owned by a sponsor and consists of players from different schools. Active participation from parents and people from the local community is also seen. Recently concluded events have created a demand for more football tournaments in the city and state as more and more youngsters now want to play football. YSLO is now involved in the process of setting up an academy and a football club to train players and provide them opportunities to play further. Further, YSLO plans to take the Leagues and Tournaments to other parts of the Country and spread with them the football spirit.

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cover story

Pepsi changes the game India witnessed international football sensation, Didier Drogba coach the national winners of the mega tournament, Pepsi T20 Football which has been creating waves across the nation over the past few months. In its move to promote the sport in the country, Pepsi invited its global brand ambassador and iconic player, Didier Drogba to encourage grassroots talent, as well as provide Indian fans an opportunity to get closer to their football hero. As part of the Pepsi T20 Football finale, eight best amateur teams from around the country played against each other to emerge victorious and get an opportunity of a lifetime to be coached by Drogba. They were then joined by Bollywood superstar and avid football fan, Ranbir

Kapoor to play a friendly football match with the Indian cricket stars including Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh and Murali Vijay. The cricketers’ team was coached by India’s very own football star, Baichung Bhutia. Football fever gripped the national capital as thousands of football enthusiasts enjoyed the thrill of the sport and witnessed Drogba share interesting tips with the winning team at the Thyagraj Stadium. The event was truly a one of a kind Pepsi extravaganza with the unique blend of football, cricket, entertainment and the excitement of Youngistaan. On his maiden visit to India for Pepsi T20 Football, Didier Drogba said, “I am thrilled to come to India for Pepsi T20 Football, which is a unique initiative to promote foot-

ball in the country. It is also great to see football gain acceptance in a country where cricket is a religion and would like to congratulate Pepsi for being the first ever brand to bring both these two sports together for the very first time. Pepsi has truly Changed the Game. I look forward to another visit to India and get to interact more with football enthusiasts here.” Homi Battiwalla, Category Director, Colas, Hydration and Mango Based Beverages, PepsiCo India said, “Pepsi has always been at the forefront of celebrating youth passions including cricket, movies, music and now football. Internationally, we have a strong association with football and are delighted with the success of our first football campaign in India. The response to our on-air cam27


paign along with the one of its kind grassroots tournament, Pepsi T20 Football has been unprecedented; and with Didier Drogba’s visit, we have truly Changed the Game. We look forward to bringing the tournament back in a bigger and better avatar next year.” “Drogba is an iconic player with unmatched popularity across the globe. His visit to India for Pepsi T20 Football is a testimony to our ultimate objective of popularizing football in the country,” he added. Drogba’s visit to India was part of Pepsi’s first football campaign in the country that was launched

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with an irreverent TVC starring Ranbir Kapoor, which set the tone for the real action. It was followed by Pepsi T20 Football - an innovative format for youngsters, which combined the excitement and fun of T20 style of playing cricket with the speed, thrill and spirit of football. Organized in a unique metallic cage, the tournament was held in major Indian cities including Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai, Lucknow, Ludhiana and Delhi, with phenomenal response. A total of 3,136 players in 448, seven-a-side teams competed in knock-out style 20-minute match-

es to reach the city finals. Eight teams, including one winning team from each city and one wild card entry from their Facebook community competed in the grand finale to emerge as ‘Game Changers’. Drogba, along with other international footballers - Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres, and Indian cricket stars also featured in Pepsi’s spectacular ‘Football meets Cricket’ TV commercial. -Courtesy Genesis Burson-Marsteller


cover story

NAGALAND PREMIER LEAGUE: ONE FOR THE FUTURE

By Amlan Jyoti Das and Amrit Pradhan

There is the Calcutta Football League, boasting of India’s two biggest (and one of the oldest) clubs which are currently going through a crisis of management which seems to be eating away at their performance in field. Then there is the league in the vibrant state of Goa which by far is better then other regional leagues in India. Cut to March this year when the Nagaland Premier League has officially commenced. This one is set to revolutionize the football structure in India. Even if it belongs to the class of state leagues, these are very important for developing a true football culture in India. Such commercial leagues will attract youngsters and motivate them to take up the sport besides boosting its popularity in India. Nagaland Premier League is a joint venture of the Nagaland Football Association and the 442 Management Company. The idea for the NPL was conceived several years ago but, due to dearth of sponsors and manpower, the idea had remained abeyant. In 2011, the

442 Management, a professionally managed organization based in Dimapur, Nagaland came forward with a proposal that was readily accepted and approved by the NFA. 442 Management is contracted by the NFA to solely run the Nagaland Premier League. Their main objectives is to change the view of North-East people that Football is a charity sport and make it a recreational sport and take the sport to the grass-root levels in the state and also to nurture and foster the untapped talent of the Naga youth. The NPL is set to pave the way for ample employment opportunities and widen the scope of football as a professionally viable career option. First season finale: Barak Flamingoz emerged as the champions of the inaugural season of the Nagaland Premier League, finishing ahead from their nearest rivalsNaga Tornadoes by two points. What is surprising though is the fact that the Naga Tornadoes are the only team in this year’s league who remained, but

they wered undone by not being able to close out matches and playing out too many draws. On the other hand, Barak Flamingoz ended up winning 14 matches, drawing 2 and losing 2 games. New Market club finished bottom of the points table, winning only game and mustering just 4 points from the 18 matches.. The elated Barak Management sent the following message to its fans via a popular social networking site“We have done it! We are the champions of Nagaland. Thank You to everyone who have been supporting and praying for us since day one. We, the BFFC management, will forever cherish today. What we have achieved today is not for ourselves. It is for everyone who has been behind us. Your endless support has made this achievement even more meaningful for all of us. It humbles us and we are hopeful that we’ll achieve many more things in the days ahead.”

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cover story

The Premier India Football Academy (PIFA) – A Feature

Colaba – the southernmost precinct of Mumbai, has always been synonymous with football in the city. Having a close proximity to the home of Mumbai Football - the Cooperage Ground, the locality has produced many India international footballers. The Colaba back garden still remains the grass root facility training ground for many schools and amateur clubs. In spite of the rich footballing culture associated with the locality, lately football in Colaba has associated itself with a new name, perhaps even a new identity – PIFAColaba F.C. This in itself speaks volumes of the influence The Premier India Football Academy (PIFA) has had on the football |30

in Colaba and at large Mumbai. Founded in 2006, the academy is the brainchild ofco-founders Anjali and Nirvan Shah.Their objective put down in blunt words – The dream to see India play in the FIFA World Cup 2022. PIFA aims to provide grassroot training facility of the highest standards to young aspiring footballers. Starting out with a men’s senior team in 2007, PIFA has now teams in four age-groups as well as a women’s team; all competing in the local football leagues. Having adopted the ColabaYoungstar FC in 2007, the re-branded PIFA Colaba Men’s senior team won successive promotions in the next two seasons and now plays in the

MDFA Elite Division and the ILeague’s 2nd tier competition. Nirvan Shah is the proud owner of several professional licenses, including a UEFA-B Coaching License, FA Levels 1 & 2 Certificates and AIFF Coaching Instructor for D License, among others. With two UEFA licensed coaches in their staff, PIFA has built its success on the back of the quality grass root training provided to the kids. The teams have regularly tasted success in both local and international tournaments alike.The academy students are exposed to world class training facilities on trips to top European clubs like Manchester United, Barcelona and AC Milan


during their frequent trips abroad. PIFA has now spread its training facility to over 1000 kids from the city, all trained under the guidance of licensed PIFA coaches. The biggest contribution to the community by PIFA yet has been the “PIFA Foundation for the Benefit of Sports”. Established in 2007, the foundation helps the lesser privileged children to develop into football players and provide them with all the necessary kits, equipment as well as providing them with financial support so that the children are not forced to work. Anjali Shah- Director of the PIFA Academy and Presidentof the PIFA Foundation and has been actively involved in Maharashtra state Women’s Teams. PIFA Colaba’s steady rise has meant that it now attracts the

best talent from the city, who aspire to develop and move on to play for the senior team. With one of the largest fan base among local teams from Mumbai, the club has gained immense popularity among the footballing fraternity in just six years of its establishment and has managed to create a truly community based club. Having recently appointed Fa-

aims to take the Academy to the next level. The results can already be seen as the PIFA Under 15 team recently claimed the NIKE Manchester United Premier Cup (West & South)Zonal Championship and then went on to the be the All India Finalist in the same competition.

ruk Ahmed,an UEFA and AFC – A Licensed coach, as the technical director and the head coach of all the teams from the Academy, PIFA

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AFC Under-22 Championships: All Match Reports India breeze past Lebanon

India opened their campaign by defeating Lebanon 5-2 in the opening match of the AFC U-22 Championship at the picturesque stadium. Manandeep paid the perfect tribute to his grandfather heading in a scorching header off a Lalrindika cross in the 16th minute to put India in the lead while Alwyn George slotted it past an advancing rival goalkeeper Nazih Hassan in the 39th minute. He added one more in the 55th minute while Jeje Lalpekhlua scored his first goal in the 71st minute and completyed the rout in the 90th minute.

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India go down fighting to Iraq

Despite down by two goals, India didn’t panic. Rather, they tried regrouped. After a string of passes in the 69th minute, Lalrindika Ralte’s long-ranger almost beat the diving rival goalkeeper Yaseen Yas but Yas managed to palm it away for a corner. In the very next minute, Dika’s free-kick hit the wall. India pressed and soon Dika and Allwyn’s one-twos had the Iraqis guessing. In the 75th minute, Manandeep tried to tap in between the two stoppers but Yasees was quick to react. The Iraqis tried to slow down the game in the last quarter of the

match but Alwyn was too good for them. He shrugged off three defenders and tap it over an onrushing Yaseen in the 82nd minute. The rest of the match, India went all out but Iraq managed to hold on.

India hold UAE

Down by an early Jamal Ibrahim goal, as early as the 9th minute, India came back strongly to hold UAE 1-1 in the U-22 AFC Championship. After a barrage of attacks on the rival citadel, Romeo Fernandes restored parity in the 88th minute. You fail to keep a track of the chances India had in the second half. The tragedy stays the score sheet never reflects the manner of the match. It just reflects the score. And UAE just managed to hold on by the skin of their teeth. National Coach Wim Koevermans and Technical Director Rob Baan congratulated the team on their splendid fightback. “I told you, you will find some good boys in this batch,” Papas told Wim. “The boys fought well. It was heartening to fight with such a spirit against such a quality side,” AIFF general Secretary Kushal Das, who had dropped in to watch the match, commented. The match ended 1-1 and India could have easily gone back home with three points. India next play Turkmenistan on June 30.


Beat Turkmenistan

India defeated Turkmenistan 4-1 in their fourth match of the AFC U-22 Qualifiers at the Sultan Qaboos Stadium in Muscat. India now move to 7 points from 4 matches and next play hosts Oman on July 3. Besides Dika, Alwyn George scored in the 69th minute and Romeo Fernandes, in the 76th minute. Jeje Lalpekhlua converted from the spot in the 86th minute to complete the rout. For Turkmenistan, Italmazov Far-

had equalised in the 59thminute.

Loss to Oman

There are days when domination doesn’t yield you anything. Tuesday (July 3) stayed such. India despite having more possession for most part of the match bowed out of the AFC U-22 Championship when they went down to Oman four-nil in the last match at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat. Hamood Saleh scored the first goal for Oman in the 54th minute while Faed Ibrahim scored

the second goal in the 67th minute. Besides, Saleh Hadid and Mubarak Humaid scored one apiece. After a dominating first half, India lost control in the second half. If it was all India in the first 45 minutes, the first 20 minutes of the second half settled the issue for the hosts. India finished with 7 points from 5 matches while Oman on 10 points from 7 matches. -Courtesy AIFF Media Team 33


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Rovers Cup set to return next year

The second oldest football tournament in the world, The Rovers Cup is set to make a comeback sometime next year, if Western India Football Federation (WIFA) is to be believed. Started in 1891 and last held in the 2000-01 the tournament might make a return between May and August 2013. The WIFA plans to stage the Rovers Cup in the renovated and refurbished Cooperage Stadium, which incidentally is set to make its own comeback to the national football scene by hosting the home matches of the Mumbai-based clubs - Air India and Mumbai F.C, in the coming I-league season 2012-13. The Rovers Cup back in the |34

day had been the premier football competition in India and was started by British football enthusiasts in Bombay in 1891. However it would not be until three decades that an Indian team participated in the competition. Mohun Bagan in 1923 became the first Indian team to play in the Rovers Cup, where they lost in the finals to Durham Light Infantry by a scoreline of 1-4. Bangalore Muslims was the first Indian team to win the competition in 1937 when they beat Mohammedan Sporting 1-0. Mohun Bagan remain the most successful side in the competition having won it 14 times, including the latest staging of the competition in 2000-01. The

inception of the I-League and several other lucrative local and national competitions meant the Rovers Cup lost its sheen and hence was discontinued in 2001. Several attempts to revive the competition in the past have proved futile, but WIFA remain confident of breathing new life into the Rovers Cup. Incidentally the AIFF had given the WIFA a window in September to stage the tournament, but the unavailability of the Cooperage stadium meant the tournament will have to wait a little longer for its return.


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Foreign Exposure for Indian Stars In this Section we have a look at the players who have gone and attended trials for teams in Europe in the Off season. The past month or two has been eventful for Indian football fans with a few Indian players heading off to some of Europe’s top clubs for training cum trial stints. Sunil Chhteri’s recent high profile move to Portugal’s Sporting Club De Portugal, more commonly known as Sporting Lisbon, grabbed the maximum number of eyeballs with the media paying close attention to each game he plays. Sunil for now has joined up with the B

squad of Portugese football’s third most successful club with an opportunity to move up to the senior squad, based on his performances. This is not the first time Sunil has plied his trade in foreign lands having played in the United States and the Great Britain earlier. Sunil was denied an opportunity to play in the English League when he failed to obtain a work permit after signing a three-year contract with Queens Park Rangers in 2009. He

then moved on to Major League Soccer club Kansas City Wizards in 2010 and stayed with the club through 2011. He also had attended a trial stint at Scottish side Glasgow Rangers along with compatriot Jeje Lalpekhlua in late 2011. The other two moves to Europe both involved goalkeepers. Considered to be one of India’s finest footballing talent Subrata Pal teamed up with German Fourth Division side Red Bull Leipzig 35


for a training stint in July. The 25 year old goalkeeper has been the Indian number 1 for the last few years and has received accolades from several quarters of the media, especially when representing India in International competitions. He was the subject of several speculative moves to top Asian clubs after an impressive performance in AFC Asian Cup 2011 though none materialised. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s move to English Premier League club Wigan Athletic in mid-July was a pleasant surprise to most Indian football fans. Gurpreet’s stay with Wigan only lasted for the duration of the training period as he would not have qualified for a work permit to play in England, owing to Indian national side’s lowly FIFA World rankings. It is believed that the 20 year old East Bengal custodian’s move had been made possible by John ‘Budgie’ Burridge, a popular sports pundit with a leading sports channel. John Burridge was the man who discovered Oman international goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi and secured his move to the English Premier League.

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