Football is not just Goa’s state sport but its favorite one too. The game was first introduced to Goa by an Irish priest called Reverend Fr. William Robert Lyons. Football was actually included as part of the sports curriculum in Catholic schools. The enthusiasm for the game also stems from the fact that football is widely played in different countries in Europe such as England and Portugal. But naturally, Goans would be drawn to the game considering what a strong Portuguese influence they had. While a special football ground gives the optimum playing experience, driving around the state, one can often spot people playing in any available open space no matter the weather conditions. Just yesterday, the Vedanta SESA Football Academy held their convocation ceremony, felicitating their young graduates. It was a high spirited event that took place at the International Centre in Dona Paula.
The Vedanta SESA Football Academy
The SESA Football Academy(SFA) was founded in 1999. It was an initiative of the SESA Community Development Foundation (SCDF), formed for the purpose of holistic development of youth using football as a base. the academy has created the conditions for discovering, creating and building talent for football. With a residential programme that lasts four months, the SESA Football Academy ensures that its trainees have an all-around experience. Not only do they train hard in football but their formal education and skill development are also taken care of during these years.
The academy also has a strong focus on women empowerment through football. Since it began, SESA Football Academy has trained over 150 footballers at its residential complex in Sankhali and has made a tremendous impact on the football fraternity all over the country. SFA graduates play on the national teams, Indian Super League (ISL), I-League clubs of India and local clubs in Goa. 7 players have earned the national team cap and 6 players played the elite ISL last season. At present, Presently 38 boys from Goa and 28 youngsters from across the country and Zambia are a part of the 2017 batch.
The SESA Football Academy trainees graduate with a bang!
The graduates were excited to be at their Convocation ceremony at the International Center in Dona Paula. For four long years, with the SESA Football Academy’s assistance, encouragement, and grooming, each trainee worked hard to become a full-fledged professional player.
The Convocation Ceremony attended by core team leaders of SESA Football Academy and Goa’s star football and sports enthusiasts, felicitated 15 students of 2014-18 batch. Namely, Ashley Cardozo, Kanta alias Dravin Sunil Mandrekar, Dhiraj Chauhan, Vighnesh G. Shetgaonkar, Vishnu Sazro Gosavi, Kunal S. Salgaonkar, Cyrus Canvi Noronha, Dylan Fernandes, Malcolm Mervin Gonsalves, Cavin Soares, Lionel D’souza, Mark Agnelo Barreto, Anil Subhash Chawan, Gaunkar Roanal Camilo and Rocky Jovhan Fernandes.
High aspirations for the SESA Football Academy
The Vedanta Group has high aspirations for the SESA Football Academy. Their vision is to equip participants with skills in sports in technical and non-technical areas of development. The ultimate achievement would be that of being the best football academy in India by 2019. President, SESA Football Academy, Mr. Annanya Agarwal said, “Sports can inspire and engage youth in a tremendous way, and with the growing interest around sports we at SFA have taken significant steps in providing professional training to budding footballers and nurture them to be the next heroes of the nation. Sesa Community Development Foundation (SCDF) has immensely contributed through various CSR initiatives to the local communities in the past and would continue to do so.’’
Women Empowerment in football
Ably supported by the international expertise of UEFA Pro License coach from Catalonia, Spain, Technical Director, SFA, Mr. Eduard BatlleBasart, CEO–Football Project for Vedanta SESA, Goa, Mr. Sukhvinder Singh reiterated Vedanta’s absolute commitment to community development through skill development and sports for youth and football in particular. The academy which also has a strong focus on empowering girls and women through their engagement in football training and coaching will continue its sponsorship association for the Second Edition Women’s Football League, which kicks off this July.
Former India Captain Baichung Bhutia also made an appearance
It was an honor to also have former Indian skipper and Advisor to SESA Football Academy, Mr. Baichung Bhutia at the convocation ceremony. He said, ‘Goa brings back a bundle of childhood memories. SFA has been doing some great work for the football community by grooming young players and producing good football talent. It is good to see these young players get such amazing guidance and facilities.’
Speaking to the Navhind Times, Mr. Bhutia said that he hopes to see eight teams from Asia, including India, qualify at the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Information credit – Vedanta SESA Football Academy/ Think Geek Media