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At 35 years Jamshedpur’s Tata Football Academy boasts of 150 cadets representing the country

Jamshedpur, Jan 16: The Tata Football Academy (TFA) conceived in 1983 and inaugurated in 1987, will turn 35 on January 17 this year.

A new chapter began in the history of Indian football when Tata Football Academy (TFA) was established on January 17, 1987, by Russi Mody, the then chairman & managing director of Tata Steel, in Jamshedpur. The academy was his brainchild.

Russi Mody had said that the aim of Tatas in establishing the Academy is not to create a Tata team or even to build a good team but to provide India with a solid base on which football could be built in the next five years.

“Tata Football Academy was set up to provide mainstream national football with a perennial pool of young footballers trained and oriented to international standards,” said an official.

All time soccer stars including Olympians like Sailen Manna, Sheoo Mewalal, Runu Guha Thakurta, Pradip Kumar Banerjee, MS Mani and Chuni Goswami (Advisor, Sports and Games, Tata Steel) were present at the occasion. A total of 20 cadets were selected for the first batch with international star, Mohammed Habib, as chief coach.

The objective of the academy is to select, nurture and prepare budding footballers from across the country in the most scientific way. A total of 252 cadets have graduated till date and 150 cadets have represented the country till date (i.e. over 60% of cadets). 24 cadets of TFA have captained Indian football team in various age group competitions while 21 ex-cadets are playing for different clubs in the current Indian Super League (ISL) season

TFA in its first decade of existence amply proved that systematic training, at the right age in a proper ambience, pays rich dividends. The juniors of TFA achieved a string of impressive victories against reputed national and international teams in this short period.

A look at the composition of the teams that have done well in the National League since its inception reveals the presence of a number of players from the TFA.

“ India has always been a footballing nation and at one time was a powerhouse in Asia but for various reasons the game has failed to hold on to that lead and has declined with India now playing catch up with the rest of the world. It is quite baffling that one of the world’s most populous countries and fastest growing economies has struggled to make an impact in the beautiful game on a global level. Instead of looking at where we have gone wrong and finding innumerable faults within and outside the system – Tata Football Academy is now concentrating on initiatives the elite football nations have taken to get to where they are. The most evident direction that gets pointed out is: Grassroots,” said an official.

As a first step to inspire local players to aspire for greater standards, in the 1980s Tata Steel brought the best of international football to the country with the Super Soccer Series. The resurgence in interest, the passion of the fans countrywide, and the national pride the games drew, were instrumental in the company setting up Tata Football Academy in 1987.

 Landmarks:

•       A total of 252 cadets have graduated till date

•       150 cadets have represented the country till date (i.e. over 60% of cadets)

•       24 cadets have captained Indian football team in various age group competitions

•       In the current Indian Super League (ISL) season, 21 ex-cadets are playing for different clubs

•       Ex-cadets, Deepak Mandal and Subrata Paul, conferred with Arjuna Award

•       TFA upgraded to four-star accreditation rating by The All India Football Federation (AIFF)

•       Awarded for “Continuous contributions to Indian Football” by The All India Football Federation (AIFF). Such recognition has been conferred for the first time to any institution by AIFF

•       Awarded “The Hall of Fame – Youth Development Award” for its contribution to Indian football by Global Soccer Conclave in its virtual event

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