Minerva FC football academy is no longer a new name in Indian football. The football school introduced by Ranjit Bajaj in 2005 has been extremely instrumental in producing quality footballers for the Indian team. A statistical comparison can be made between Minerva FC academy and the country’s leading football school Tata Football Academy’s contribution in the last 10 years. According to statistics the TFA which has been gifting international footballers to the national team over the decades has produced only 25 footballers in the last 10 years and they have played at least one match each including the senior and junior Indian squads. Not even five footballers’ names are found who have represented either senior or junior Indian teams in at least 10 matches each.
In 2020, there were only five footballers who had donned Indian shirts, but none of them was able to break through in the senior Indian squad. The scenario has been the same this year also. Only four footballers from TFA have been able to don Indian shirts, but they have made it to the junior Indian team.
Now, looking at Minerva FC academy, it can be seen that in the last 10 years, this school has produced 70 footballers who have donned Indian shirts including senior and junior Indian teams. Looking at the senior Indian squad, the presence of Minerva FC academies like Gurprit Singh Sandhu, Sandesh Jingan, Aniruddh Thapa, Anwar Ali, and Manvir Singh is seen. 12 footballers have represented the senior Indian team in recent times.
Now, this academy has more than 200 boys between the ages of 6 and 14 years and they train under the head coach Surender Singh and 22 licensed coaches.
Minerva Academy – Project World Cup
Ranjit Bajaj has claimed he does not want to wait for the All India Football Federation’s initiative to go on a talent searching hunt. He said,
“We all have waited for 85 years. The AIFF has not initiated any positive project that can help Indian football to reach the top five at the Asian level. Unless we are within the first five, we should not at all dream of qualifying for the World Cup finals. So on behalf of our football school, we launched a project, named ‘World Cup 2034’. We selected more than 70 kids through trials across the country. The age group is from 6 to 11 years. We will nurture them for 10 years and after being released from school these boys will reach such a standard where India’s football fraternity can dream of qualifying for the World Cup finals.”
Under the project, these boys are sent on exposure trips every year. Chief coach Surender Singh who joined the academy in 2015 said over the phone from Chandigarh,
“Our team comprising the boys of 11 years old have already won an international championship “Meena Cup” in Dubai this year. They have beaten La Liga teams there like Barcelona FC, and HPL. Plans are there to send the boys under this mission to Spain, UK early next year. These boys will be playing strong junior teams so that they can earn the confidence and self-belief.”
Surender revealed Minerva FC academy has an infrastructure of international standard comprising modern equipment. But at the same time, the chief coach disclosed that in the video analysis classes the boys are often shown videos of legendary football coaches‘ speeches on youth and grass route development. Surender stated,-- Advertisement --
“Keeping the dream of playing World Cup in the minds of these boys we show Pep Guardiola’s video speeches and also the video speeches of other legendary coaches in world football.”