The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Software cradle for football & golf
- Microsoft firm eyes academy to catch ’em young and teach ’em to play

There’s news for the budding Bhaichung Bhutias and aspiring Arjun Atwals. Even as the corporate corps puts its best branded foot forward to back the Souravs and the Sachins in the run-up to the South Africa World Cup, a software solutions firm has chosen to play a different field.

Navision Software India Pvt. Ltd, a Microsoft business solutions distributor, is keen to set up grassroots academies in Calcutta to promote football and golf — and not cricket. “Our vision is to support these sports by subsidising talent, which abounds in Calcutta and the Northeast, particularly in soccer. I feel the best way to go about it is to create infrastructure to nurture juniors,” says Yash Nagpal, managing director of the company.

Navision, title sponsor for the Consular Corps of Kolkata invitational golf meet, which gets underway at Tollygunge Club on Friday, already has nine solution centres in the city and wants to bring “more energy” to Calcutta by “entering people’s hearts” through sports.

“Cricket and Bollywood are always the preferred vehicles for corporates because it gives them ready mileage. But we believe a brand can’t be built overnight and Navision is not looking at short-term gains. Hence, the thought of investing in soccer and golf, two sports with a great tradition in Calcutta,” explains Nagpal.

The company, owned worldwide by Microsoft, wants to sound out other “like-minded” firms to form a consortium for supporting the football and golf programmes. “If Navision shows the way, others are sure to step forward, since Indians are known to have a herd mentality. We must pick the kids very young, preferably in early school. It’s easy to send 30 boys abroad to train. But, we would like to get overseas experts to create a large pool of Indian coaches instead.”

This would ensure that the children learn the basics right during their formative years, so that Navision can look at a long-term perspective.

Nagpal also promises to sound out Danish ambassador in India Michael Sternberg — “a good friend” — to try and import valuable soccer expertise from the Scandinavian nation. “We are looking at involving other European countries too, with exchange programmes to boost the academy in Calcutta. If we help a talented kid sharpen his skills, we would be empowering him to stand on his own feet. To me, that is the best investment,” he observes.

The firm from the Microsoft stable is keen to tee off a golf nursery in the city of the Royal Calcutta Golf Club and Tolly. “Calcutta has two of the finest courses in Asia and a rich golfing heritage. We will be working with Tiger Sports to explore avenues for setting up this facility to groom gifted youngsters,” declares Nagpal.

“The programme should start with a pool of 3,000 kids from all over the country and then, we should look at whittling it down to a target group of 50 top youngsters within a year,” says Brandon D’Souza, president, Tiger Sports.

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