Ardor Football Academy LLP: Glorifying the Skills of Emerging Players
Ardor Football Academy

A boy with a Manchester United’s T-shirt cheering for the team with a poster of Ronaldo – a common picture in India, such is the passion for football in this country. A decade ago, if someone asked which sport do Indians play, cricket would be the most obvious answer. However, it has changed from past few years with football making strong impact on Indian youth. Establishment of several football leagues in India penetrated the world’s most famous game into all parts of the country. India has evolved from a cricket-monopoly nation to a multisport country.

The past century wasn’t that great for the football sector in India. However, Indian football players like Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri made a strong impact on Indian youth with their impressive game. It is evident that whenever any team or player of a particular sport makes an impact on global level, that sport automatically gains the attention of public. With the likes of Indian Super League and U-17 football world cup arranged in India, many young players emerged with great talent. Similarly, many sports academies were established with the aim of making future superstars in the game. Ardor Football Academy (AFA) is one of the prominent name in that list, working on its initiative – ‘Football for All’.

AFA was set up with a single point agenda to develop football at grassroots level in India and currently runs the largest and the most intensive well researched community soccer program in the country impacting more than 4000+ lives. The bitter fact of zero penetration of any grassroots football training academy in Eastern India, which has a rich sports culture, inspired the AFA team to start the organization. The academy was primarily focused on under-privileged kids through free training, thereby channeling their negative energy into something positive through the tool of football.

Mission: Right to play- football for all.

Vision: AFA aspires to become the largest grassroots community-football academy in the world through its ‘Football for All’ campaign. AFA aims to have 2,00,000 active cadets PAN India by 2031.

Core Values: AFA’s low cost with high impact module is based upon core values like fairness, equality, discipline, professionalism, perseverance, and respect.

Players in the Making

AFA’s high-impact training module is designed to create an assembly line setup to deliver international level players year on year. Its international training module develops multidimensional aspects; tactical, technical, physical, mental, and social. The academy does not only focus on making them players but also provide them with a platform to take up sports as a career through its Coach Development Program.

AFA is committed to take care of player’s nutrition, equipment, and gear requirements along with focusing on their physical and mental health through periodic health checkups and counseling free of cost. The academy focuses on its USP – free grassroots football training for all. Its high impact training module, free focused training for government schools and community, coach development program, and education integrated programs makes AFA stand apart from the competition.

Inspiration Behind the Goal Post

High adrenaline right-to-play activist Jayadev Mahapatra is a social entrepreneur with flair for football and love for kids. He has proved to be a true change-maker devising a sustainable social impact model using football as a tool. He aims to build an eco-system that would develop worldclass football players from the East India region. With 10+ years of coaching experience, he has been spear-heading the community programs free of cost for everyone since 2012.

The Offside Challenge

The academy focuses on providing community programs free of cost for every interested child. It requires some amount of money to do so. With change of time, it has always been difficult to expand the academy due to the fact of it running free of costs. People and government have always been supportive to the academy’s initiative, but financial constraints have always been a barrier for expansion. However, AFA is working beyond its limit to fulfil all the needs of players.

The Golden Gloves

The academy is working hard to generate players of a highest calibre. And the hard work paid off some fruitful achievements in the form of successful and high achievements players such as –

2016: Chandan Nayak selected for Bayern Munich U15

2017: 20+ Cadets selected for Youth ILeague Clubs

2019: 4 Cadets elected for India U15 National Camp, Ranjan Soren won U15 SAAF Championship for India

2020: 2 Cadets (U-16) signed professional contract with Punjab FC.

The Pandemic Penalty

The academy has started its operation now and still in its initial phase. But amid the peak time of pandemic, the cadets couldn’t access the community grounds for practice. Many tournaments have been postponed or cancelled looking at the devastating waves of the pandemic. AFA’s training programs for government school hostel kids were deeply affected due to the pandemic.

The cadets had to return home across districts with no other alternative. Restrictions of lockdowns didn’t allow players to come and practice. On the other hand, the academy was concerned about the safety of players. Hence, to avoid the chances of infection, AFA stopped its programmes and trainings.

Future Goals

Action speaks louder than words. AFA has been continuously pumping in cadets from under privileged society into national team and different clubs. The administration said, “We will keep doing so exponentially. We aim to create the first truly international cadet player from East India, who would get to play with European clubs. Started with our Coach Development Program, we are soon going to start with Cadet Exchange Programs and Sports Fellowship.”

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