APFA summer football camp begins at RG Stadium

[ Rhea Panicker ]

NAHARLAGUN, 18 May: Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here was abuzz with excitement as the Grassroots Development Committee of the Arunachal Pradesh Football Association (APFA) launched its summer football coaching camp for boys and girls aged 7 to 13.

This initiative, running through the summer holidays, aims to nurture young talent and promote football at the grassroots level. According to APFA administrative officer Orin Lego, the camp initiative was started three years back to promote healthy lifestyle by introducing football to the children during the holidays as a way to keep them physically active and to not succumb to the vacation spirit of playing online games and watching television.

So far, the summer camp this season has 98 participants from and around Itanagar.

 The children in the summer camp have trained male and female coaches with qualifications from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF), who have divided the structure of the training with their expertise. The children are divided into two groups: from seven to 10 years old,and from 11 to 13 years old, and have different programmes set up for them.

“The safety of the children is something that cannot be compromised, due to which we have an experienced physiotherapist present at the stadium during every practice,” said Lego.

The organisation is also ready with first aid kits and ice packs, in case of need.

The parents of the participants are kept in touch by the organisation through WhatsApp groups, through which they send notifications, information and suggestions. After every session, the coaches also talk to the parents to give their feedbacks. The organisation also reaches out to the parents to inform them about suitable diets the children can adopt to have better stamina on the football ground.

Due to lack of proper infrastructure, the last two years failed to see further development of this organisation; however, this year the APFA has planned to start a non-residential football academy for children, in Naharlagun.

The organisation also plans to start a Blue Cubs League with the AFF, in collaboration with the Northeast United FC, for 6- to 12-year-olds from 8 June.

Lego said that “the initial stage is just the children enjoying football as a sport.”

“After the age of 10 is when the children start to understand the technicalities and competition of the sport. The attempt now is to strengthen their grassroots level,” he said.

The organisation has not faced any challenge so far,and wants to promote this football summer camp in other districts, as well, and is willing to help by providing certified coaches and aides.