When you think about football turfs in Bangalore, one name strikes, South United Football Club. Located at the heart of Bangalore, SUFC is one of the best football facilities in Bangalore. BBS interviewed Mr. Pranav Trehan, the CEO of SUFC to understand the future goals of SUFC Academy.
Where do you see the SUFC Academy in the next 5 years?
At the SUFC Academy, we will have one of the most competitive I-League Youth Teams in all three age groups. We aim to also contribute talent to the Under 17 National Team, where we will be recognized as one of the finest talent-building academies in the country!
What makes SUFC different from other academies?
Our infrastructure to begin with! A lot of people, just because they coach and rent a ground, call themselves an academy. An academy is more than just that. The purpose of an academy is to identify, develop, and retain talented young footballers while providing them with the right learning environment to grow. At SUFC, we have all-weather 11-a-side, 6-a-side, and 3-a-side turfs, a Gym, a Medical Centre, a Café, Dressing Rooms and Lockers, as well as several other sports facilities that players can avail of. Secondly, all our coaches are licensed professionals. The talent we have in our coaching department put together is more than I have ever seen in any other football club or academy in the country. The product, the infrastructure, and the team delivering it make a massive difference.
What kind of collaborations are you looking at for the SUFC Academy that can help the Academy grow?
Collaborations are vital for any organization to grow. At SUFC, we have multiple partnerships in place, and we will continue to add to them. An academy is more than just on-field training. It is about building a positive culture both on and off the field while nurturing students to not only become better football players but also good human beings. To look after the holistic development of a child, we have plans to collaborate with nutritional brands, educational institutes, and international universities. From there, we will continue to provide the students with a pathway to go abroad and gain access to higher levels of football training.
What are important investments for a successful academy in your opinion?
The initial step, which many people in India overlook, is infrastructure, making it your first investment. The second is in your coaching department, and one must definitely not cut corners in these two areas. They are your most significant investments and help bring the results.
How important are academies for football clubs?
They are as important as engines are for cars. Without an engine, a car is useless, and without an academy, the growth of a football club is almost negligible. Without an academy, you will need to depend on the talent that is developed by others, and you will also end up spending more money to hire that talent. In the Sports Industry, growth takes place from the bottom to the top, not the other way around. So having a football club without an academy means one is following the top to bottom approach. Therefore, many clubs still make losses – especially those who try the top to bottom method. However, I think most have learned this the hard way and are correcting themselves by changing their strategies. An academy is the first step and is the root of the success of the tree you are trying to grow.
What is the complete pathway South United is building?
From the SUFC Academy, students can progress to our I-League Youth Teams. This transition will eventually help them get into the First Team of South United – where we play in the I-League Second Division and state-level football leagues organized by the Association. The Academy will be a platform for big clubs to scout talented footballers and a place where players can get selected for the national squad or picked up by top ISL and I-League teams. This is the crux of what we are building here at SUFC!