Pune FC and its Youth Development

An AIFF Press Release

Apart from roping in superstars, the other pivotal reason behind Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona stealing a march over their European lesser mortals is their sustained investment in Youth Development.

Treading the same path are Airtel I-League heavyweights Pune FC, who are reaping dividends from having a perfect blend of youth and seasoned campaigners in their ranks.

Three shy from early league leaders Bengaluru FC -- who have played a game more --  with ten points from four matches, the only Club to fulfill Indian Club Licensing Criteria in the latter’s opening year have no less than eight Academy graduates in their Senior Squad.

“This in itself speaks volumes about the functioning of the Youth Development system in place at Pune FC,” Academies Director Ranjan Chowdhury told www.the-aiff.com. “We not only have Academy graduates in the Squad but also in the playing XI, that too on a regular basis. Pune FC’s first choice goalkeeper is an Academy Product. Then we have (Thongkhosiem) Haokip and Nikhil Kadam who have done really well,” he added.

“(Lalrempuia Fanai) Puia has represented India in the AFC U-19 Qualifers in Doha recently and is a fantastic talent. I expect him to soon break into the Playing XI. With so many players making an impact into the Senior Team, I think we are heading in the right direction,” Chowdhury stated.

The Red Lizards who finished second last Season boasts of Salam Ranjan Singh, Longjam Gobin Singh, Dhanapal Ganesh, and Denechandra Meitei from their Academy apart from the three listed above.

While Amrinder has kept three clean sheets from four matches he has played under the bar so far, Haokip made his mark by netting his first goal for the Senior Team against Mohun Bagan.  Haokip is only the second Academy player to score for the Senior Team. Nikhil Kadam is the first one.

Kadam who holds the record of being the first ever Peninsula Pune FC Academy Player to sign a full contract with the Club has also impressed one and all pulling the strings in the middle of the park.

“Every year we have at least four to five players graduating from the Academy to the Senior Team,” informed Chowdhury. “We have Grassroots to Academy at Pune FC. Starting from U-10 to U-13, U-15, U-17, and U-19 we have Teams in total. Each Team has a total of 25 boys, two Coaches and three conditioning trainers,” added the veteran Youth Development Coach who has produced close to 200 Indian Footballers while at Tata Football Academy.

The U-10 to U-15 Academies at the Peninsula Pune FC Academy are non-residential but once they move into the U-17 age-group, we have residential Academies. The Residential Academy Boys have a total of ten training sessions a week while the non-residential Academy Boys train three times a week.”

Like any top club in the world, Pune FC also preach the same philosophy across all their Teams. “We preach the 4-2-3-1 formation across all our age-groups and also the Senior Team. Each player at Pune FC, from the U-10 Boys play in one style,” Chowdhury confirmed.
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