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Windfall for academy

Calcutta: The West Bengal state residential football academy in Khardah, the first of its kind set up by a state government, was inaugurated, at the Vivekananda Stadium, on Sunday.

Around 40 players, belonging to the under-16 level, have been selected to undergo training at the academy for the next three years. Eminent personalities in Olympians P.K. Banerjee and Chuni Goswami, Shyam Thapa and Syed Nayeemuddin along with a host of other former footballers were present at the inauguration ceremony.

Former India footballer Goutam Sarkar has been appointed director of the academy.

State sports minister Madan Mitra announced a further Rs 10 crore for the academy. “Another Rs 10 crore will be handed over to build up a synthetic track, swimming pool, gym and convert the existing drawing room here into a conference room with all necessary facilities.

“Besides, a monthly expenditure of Rs 5 lakh will be kept separate for this academy,” Mitra said, adding: “I’ve also spoken to Sourav Ganguly on this matter. Atletico Madrid officials will have to come here at this academy first before they go to Calcutta.”

There are also plans to install giant-screens from the day the World Cup begins so that the wards can watch all the matches, Mitra informed.

The state government’s initiative, as of now, has drawn applause from the former footballers. “Indeed, it’s a good effort by the government,” commented PK. “But you also need to see how it culminates in the next four to five years.

“It’s a big responsibility. After all we will be dealing with young players. It’s good that the government has gone for a residential academy. Boys will be able to concentrate better… It’s good for Bengal football as a whole,” said Thapa.

“It’s a very good effort. I believe it will be a successful initiative as the government is directly involved in it. I’m confident this academy will benefit Bengal football,” Nayeemuddin said.