Dutch to tap Kerala talent

Twente FC in talks to set up football academy

 Kerala’s affair with football may soon have a happy twist. Top Dutch club FC Twente is in talks with promoters of an upcoming international stadium here to launch a football academy to train local talent.

Officials of the club have already visited Kerala. The stadium promoters will provide infrastructure and FC Twente the talent and resources.

A senior official at the Kariavattom Sports Facilities Limited (KSFL), a special purpose vehicle of the IL & FS Transportation Network that is constructing the Rs 160-crore stadium, said the partnership would provide an opportunity to aspiring footballers and local players to train under international expertise.

“The club officials also watched the Santosh Trophy matches to assess how deep the passion for the game is in Kerala. The idea is to tap into sleeping potential,” KSFL director Anilkumar Pandala told Deccan Herald on Thursday.

FC Twente, based in Enschede, the Netherlands, already runs an academy in collaboration with other clubs in the Dutch leagues.

The KSFL is planning a three-tier football league involving amateurs, registered and professional clubs.

The Kerala Football Association (KFA), which also hosted the FC Twente officials during their visit, welcomed the new partnership. “They were keen on understanding the local flavour attached to the game. We also see such partnerships as part of a trend. International clubs have recently shown great interest in India, especially Kerala,” KFA president K M I Mather said on Thursday. “A logistical framework for the academy could be out in the next couple of months.”

The KSFL is planning to host some of the biggest names in international football at the 50,000-seat multi-purpose stadium.

The stadium is being readied for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 35th National Games later this year. The company is holding talks with global sport management groups which handle Manchester United, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The tough task will be to raise the stadium’s standards by a few notches. The company is spending an additional Rs 60 crore on the stadium which is coming up at Kariavattom on the outskirts of the city.

“We need to have local, regional, national and international matches regularly to keep the stadium alive. It’s important to provide a great match day ambience and an infrastructure of international standards,” Pandala said. 

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