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Sporting schools

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From a swanky, air-condititioned tennis academy to an archery campus where trainees do their own cooking and washing, the country's sporting schools run the whole gamut.

VENGSARKAR CRICKET ACADEMY


Oval Maidan (Churchgate) and Mahul (Chembur), Mumbai

STRENGTH

| 100 students each

FEES


| Free

FACULTY & AMENITIES


| There are four coaches at each academy. All of them are Level-One coaches or have played Grade 'A' cricket, says former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar, who runs it. There are 13 wickets at the Oval and 20 at Mahul. Both academies boast of a beautiful outfield

GOALS


| The academies offer training for U-19, U-16, U-14 and U-12 categories. The academy at the Oval was launched in 1994 and was sponsored by Elf till a couple of years back. Vengsarkar says he doesn't charge money in order to ensure the quality of trainees. "The purpose of my academies is not commercial but to produce cricketers who are good enough to play for Mumbai and India, " he says. Students get to play tournaments in and outside Mumbai, where their boarding and lodging are taken care of by the academy. Vengsarkar's academy at Chembur is ponsored by Ultratech Cements

OZONEGROUP FOOTBALL ACADEMY
in association with KNVB (the Royal Dutch Football Association) located in Bangalore

STRENGTH

| 60 (in the under-10 and under-12 age-groups )

FEES


| Free. It is a social initiative which focuses on underprivileged children

FACULTY & AMENITIES


| KNVB's world-class coaches man the programme. Nico Labohum is based in Bangalore and Garard Nijkamp travels back and forth from the Netherlands for short stints. The Dutchmen are assisted by eight Indian coaches. The academy is located in Bangalore's IT hub on a five-acre campus that will have grounds (artificial turf), gym, swimming pool and a residential layout for the trainees. Infrastructure work for the academy is scheduled to be completed in about 20-months.

GOALS


| Nijkamp, who has been in the coaching business for the last 20 years, says the training programme revolves around the Dutch coaching/teaching philosophy which wasn't about telling children what to do, but rather allowing them to choose what they wanted to do. "If it is diet, for example, we teach them what is good and right. But when it comes to picking what they want to eat they have to exercise their own choice. That's what the game of football is all about, split-second decisions and choices. "

PULLELA GOPICHAND BADMINTON ACADEMY Hyderabad


STRENGTH

| 150 including 30 boarders

FEES


| Rs 2, 000 per month for non-boarders and Rs 8, 000 per month for boarders

FACULTY & AMENITIES


| Pullela Gopichand, Mohd Siyadathullah, Rajender Kumar, Anil Kumar, Chandra Badana, Satyam, Ravi, Sanjeeva, Tanuja and Ramu. The academy boasts of eight courts with sprung wooden floors as per international norms. It has a health club with gym, jacuzzi and steam room, yoga centre and meditation hall. The boarders live in 15 air-conditioned rooms and two 12-bed air conditioned dormitories.

GOALS


| Former All-England champion Gopichand firmly believes that Indians have the potential to become world champions. After his own career was cut short due to repeated injuries and lack of proper injury rehabilitation, Gopi, who is the only Indian after Prakash Padukone to clinch the prestigious All-England title, developed a strong desire to establish a worldclass badminton academy in his home town, Hyderabad.
Within months of taking over as the chief coach of the Indian team in 2006, Gopi produced sensational results. His ward Saina Nehwal became the first Indian girl to win a Grand Prix Gold in 2006. Ever since the academy came into existence in 2008, Gopi's trainees have dominated the Indian badminton scene and come up with encouraging results at international level.
Waiting in the wings are talented shuttlers like PV Sindhu, tipped to take over from Saina, youngsters Sourabh Verma, his brother Sameer and a number of other budding stars.
Apart from offering world-class training, the academy has international-level equipment to help athletes recover faster and train harder. It has officially been nominated as an Asia Training Centre along with BAM Kuala Lumpur.

PUNJAB AND SINDH BANK ACADEMY Jalandhar


SPORT

| Hockey

STRENGTH


| 40 (20 students in sub-junior (12-15 yrs) category and 20 in junior (15-18 ) category)

FEES


| Free for sub-juniors who are provided boarding & lodging and schooling. In fact, a stipend of Rs 2, 200 is given to collegelevel players

FACULTY & AMENITIES


| One coach and one manager allocated for each team. The students get to train on various stateowned astroturfs. Former India coach and Dronacharya awardee, Rajinder Singh, is the head coach as well as the sports secretary of the academy. It provides excellent training and encourages cut-throat competition among peers. It has produced national and international players year after year.

GOALS


| The academy emphasises retaining the inborn skills of a player and then adding on to his/her skill set. The larger goal of this academy is to tap rural talent and turn Punjab into a hockey powerhouse, again. The academy, however, has no aim of building on its own infrastructure. The teams practise at Burlton Park, Surjit Hockey academy and other astroturfs in the city.

EKLAVYA ARCHERY ACADEMY


Naswadi, Vadodara

STRENGTH

| 30;all belong to the Bhil community, a listed Adivasi group in Gujarat. All the trainess hail from families living below the poverty line

FEES


| Free

FACULTY & AMENITIES


| The academy was started in 2003 by Dinesh Bhil, a former national champion. In the initial years, the trainees would make their own bows and arrows. Things got better for the academy after an article published in 2008 in TOI's Ahmedabad edition highlighted the plight of the archers. A philanthropist from Mumbai read the article and helped them buy a few recurve and compound bows, and some graphite arrows.

GOALS


| When Bhil started the academy, the campus was nothing but a few thatched walls on all sides and a tarpaulin overhead. The trainees slept on charpoys which were provided by the academy but cooked their own food, washed their own clothes and even cultivated their own vegetables for consumption. Whatever prize money these archers won by participating in various competitions would go towards funding their daily needs like buying dal, chawal and oil for cooking. Nine years on, they have got a concrete structure in place. Unfortunately, the rest of the things continue to be the same.

Historically, the Bhil tribals are experts in hunting. So shooting with a bow and arrow comes very naturally to them. Dinesh himself was an archery trainee at the Devgadh Bariya sports complex which was run jointly by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Sports Authority of Gujarat (SAG) from 1997 to 1999. Due to some internal differences among the two sporting bodies they had to shut the complex down and as a result Dinesh was left stranded. His never-say-die attitude and continuous hard work and perseverance earned him a place at the SAI hostel in New Delhi where he stayed from 1999 to 2002. During that period he won many competitions and was also the national record holder in the Indian round on two occasions in New Delhi and Jamshedpur. Even while he was playing, Dinesh started doing homework for his dream academy. He used to collect all rejected equipments at the SAI hostel and carry them home for the boys there, especially the strings, which are manufactured only in the US and were very expensive.

Dinesh is happy that despite all shortcomings, he has got a bunch of archers who will do anything to excel in the game. They may not have anything to wear or eat but give them a bow and arrow and they will hit bull's eye. In fact, it is his boys who gave Gujarat its first medal in the National Games - a bronze at Guwahati in 2007.

These boys never miss a training session or conditioning training. All 30 study in various schools and colleges in and around the area. Fourteen-year-old Ram Bhil, who is the youngest and one of the brightest talents, travels three kilometres every day to attend school while Raman Bhil travels more than 30 km to complete his final year BA course. They don't mind the hard work. On the contrary they are happy that they have started receiving archery equipment of international standards. They strongly believe they are now on the threshold of achieving big goals in national and international meets. "That's our aim, "says Dinesh. "We have many archers who have won medals at university meets, rural games and state meets. The time has now come to enter the next level. "

OTTERS CLUB Bandra, Mumbai


SPORT

| Swimming

STRENGTH


| 12 batches with 50 individuals each (mostly children)

FEES


| Rs 1, 600 per person

FACULTY & AMENITIES


| In terms of swimming, Otters club is ranked No. 1 in the city. It has eight regular club coaches who are the top coaches of the city.

GOALS


| For the last 30 years, Otters Club has been organising swimming camps twice every year - once in summer and the other in winter. Its summer camp kick-starts on April 23 and goes on till the end of May. Each of its 12 batches, consisting of 50 participants, is divided into beginners and advanced categories. Apart from boasting of the city's top coaches, it also has pros like Milind Soman, Akansha Bora and Vishal Kapoor as members. These biggies mainly try to motivate the kids to take up swimming in a more competitive way. "They are our members and make it a point to talk to the kids, " said Sonia Thomas, secretary of the camp. "Although we are here to teach the children, it is the summer vacation so there is lots of fun and games too. "

THE TENNIS VILLAGE Bangalore


STRENGTH

| 100

FEES


| Grassroots programme costs Rs 6, 000 a month (one two-hour session a day, 6 days a week). Advanced programme is Rs 15, 000 a month (one session a day, six days a week). However, two sessions a day are recommended.

FACULTY & AMENITIES


| While Krishna Bhupathi oversees the programme, Prakash Padukone manages the junior trainees. Former pro Praveen Kumar heads the advanced batch. South African Shyamal Vallabhjee provides the physical training manual for the trainees. Krishna likens his picturesque academy, located in a north Bangalore suburb, to a supermarket. He calls it tennis' one-stop shop. The Tennis Village campus, a residential facility, houses six synthetic courts, a running track, gymnasium, swimming pool and cafeteria.

GOALS


| Krishna says he set up the academy almost a decade ago with the single objective of popularising the game. He adds, "I don't claim to manufacture champions even though my training has nurtured Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna besides my own son Mahesh, and scores of other juniors. Our focus is on the critical mass and while we deal with hundreds of players we hope for, and seek, genuine talent who could
SYED break through to the professional level. Otherwise, we aim to guide them to playing collegiate tennis in the United States.

USHA SCHOOL OF ATHLETICS


Kinaloor, Kozhikode

STRENGTH

| 18

FEES


| Free

FACULTY & AMENITIES


| PT Usha is the coach and Dr Schiller Jos is the medical advisor. The Union government recently allotted Rs 7-odd crore to set up a synthetic track, the first one in the area for five districts at the school. Apart from the Sports Ministry aid, the school has a few big and small IT companies including SAP, Bangalore as sponsors. The individuals donations come from Infosys chief Shibulal and his family, Sudha Murthy, Mohandas Pai, Galfar Md Ali, Mumbai-based homemaker Sunita Rao, and additional support from Shoba builders and Olympcic Gold Quest.

GOALS


| Legendary athlete Pilavullakandy Thekkeparambil Usha started the school in 2002 with a vision to nurture talent to achieve excellence in every field of athletics and place India firmly on the international sports map. Working as the mentor and coach of 18 students including India's London Olympic hopeful Tintu Luka (800 m, pic below) and the emerging talent like Jessy Joseph (800 m), Usha aims to win an Olympic medal in athletics, which she missed by a whisker in 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, through her wards. Usha school's mission include - providing continuing education with sports training, promoting scientific training in sports, inculcating love for sports among the general public and to promote sports as a serious career for the talented athletes.

With inputs from Ratnakar Manne in Hyderabad;Gaurav Kanthwal in Jalandhar;Ajit Bezbaruah in Ahmedabad and Vijesh MV in Kozhikode.

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