In an effort to ensure their title triumph in the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL) doesn’t become just a footnote in history, champions Atletico de Kolkata have made concrete efforts to ensure grassroots football will flourish under their guidance as they joined hands with West Bengal’s Indian Football Association (IFA) to revive the IFA Nursery League.
The IFA Nursery League is a Junior Football Tournament that is played amongst IFA affiliated nursery clubs from not just in and around the suburbs of Kolkata, but from within the city itself. The affiliated clubs are also present in the North & South 24 Parganas and Salt Lake – Bidhan Nagar districts as well. The league is overtly interested in distinguishing talent at the grass-root level and developing them further.
The target of the Kolkata-based ISL franchise is to build a sufficient talent pool of players between the age groups of 12 to 14 years. The team’s management would then select the best players from the tournament and provide them with the best ‘opportunities and possibilities’ to train and sharpen their skills to fulfil a good footballing future.
To this end, Atletico de Kolkata, who aim to identify the ‘Most Dynamic’ footballers in the region, have also promised a significant hand in contributions by providing state of the art infrastructure besides other facilities from common transportation to financial aid.
Expressing his delight at the new venture, Mr. Sanjiv Goenka, co-owner of Atletico De Kolkata and chairman of the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group expounded, “Our aim is to promote football and develop infrastructure for the game in Bengal. This association with IFA in reviving Nursery league is aligned to our commitment made to uplift and scout for the best of the football talent. We truly believe that the budding footballers of ATK Nursery Division Football League are going to be the future of Indian football.”
Utpal Ganguly, secretary IFA was enthused beyond belief that the ISL champions had themselves associated with the league and claimed, “Indian football will always demand to hunt for fresh talents of the game. What best it could be Atletico de Kolkata is associating with the league which will enable further to identify, nurture budding talents from the remote of the state.”
“We are overwhelmed to take the responsibility of conducting this event in association with IFA this year and I believe that we have the skills and resources to facilitate this change and hence, we must participate in this process,” further added Harsh Neotia, co-owner Atletico De Kolkata and the chairman of Ambuja Neotia Group.
The league is expected to be played amongst teams in five zones. There seems to be predominantly two groups - One for the players within ages 12 to 14 and the other for players under 12. The former group will have 35 teams whilst the latter one will have 47.
The first stage of the league will ensure teams play amongst themselves in a double round robin basis, in group A, whilst group B will be see teams play in a single round robin basis from within their zones. Teams that qualify for the second stage of the competition will play amongst themselves to identify the semi-finalists and finalists. Estimates suggest the participation of close to 2000 kids, with 23 players on an average from each team.
Opening Ceremony and inaugural match of the tourney is expected to be held at the Mohun Bagan ground on the 23rd March, 2015 at 3.00 PM IST.