Boca Juniors Football School India: Creating Champions of Tomorrow
Boca Juniors Football School India

We at The Knowledge Review feel privileged to commence this issue with an exploration into Boca Juniors Football School India (BJI), the regional franchise and direct representative of the world-famous football club Boca Juniors, in India.

BJI is an AIFF-accredited three-star football academy based in Bengaluru. The football school was the aspiration of Play.Develop.Compete (PDC), an Indian sports management firm that brought the likes of the Argentinian club to India in 2013, through its mission to uplift the football landscape of the country.

Boca Juniors India enjoys an esteemed reputation as the developers of elite footballers. Legends of the game such as Diego Maradona, Carlos Tevez, and Juan Roman Riquelme have represented the club in Argentina, leaving their mark on football history. Today, BJI provides professional training to over 400 young players, between the ages of six and eighteen, annually, across eleven grassroots and high-performance centers.

BJI promotes sporting excellence and provides professional mentorship to its athletes. It shows them that, through practice, dedication and meticulous preparation, anyone can achieve their dreams.

The Motorist Behind BJI

Sunanda Das, CEO, and Founder of PDC is the engine that drives Boca Juniors India and has been instrumental in the sustained growth of the company. More significantly, he has pioneered professional football training and athlete development, creating a legacy within the industry in Karnataka.

Together with his love for the game and over 25 years of leadership experience in the telecom industry, Mr. Das set up PDC and Boca Juniors India to give back to the football community. It is this same zeal that is mirrored in the very essence of the organization.

As the CEO of a football management enterprise his presence is far-reaching. Mr. Das’s enthusiasm for the beautiful game has translated into an incomparable work ethic. Whether it be through observing six-year-olds training at a BJI grassroots center or reviewing a player’s performance in a Hero Youth I-League match, or posting on social media himself, he makes his presence felt everywhere. This is why BJI is currently the industry standard for professional athlete development in Bengaluru.

Overall, Mr. Das is responsible for bringing discipline to a disorganized and otherwise unrestful market. It was his pursuit of excellence and his ideas around the organization of competitive football that inspired many to do the same.

The Boca Way

Boca Juniors India’s methodology refers to a coaching style that maximizes player learning during training, backed by the belief that the game itself is the greatest teacher. BJI’s methodology is rooted in the principles of guided discovery. While coaching, the staff refrain from providing immediate solutions to their athletes, helping learners to interpret their learning environment and make independent and effective decisions. Such explorative training increases a player’s motivation to learn more. Furthermore, BJI’s technical staff initiate critical thinking amongst the players, via open-ended questions. Such training enables coaches to involve an entire batch in the communication process while imparting quality learning across individuals.

Bending the Ball Perfectly

Boca Juniors India’s training programs have been devised in a way that allows aspiring young players to develop their technical, tactical, mental, and physical abilities as they progress through the age groups. The programs are as follows:

Grassroots Training– As the most important program of BJI, this program focuses on skill acquisition by instilling footballing skills and a basic understanding of the game within young players. Each player is educated in footballing fundamentals, with the curriculum covering every technical element of the game. Each session also has a tactical component to match skill-based learning to game-based scenarios.

Excellence Program– This is the next step in the development of a BJI athlete. Talented players found across the grassroots centers and professional networks are shortlisted into three teams – U13’s, U15’s and U18’s. Each team competes in the Hero Youth I-Leagues every year and has access to the best technical and infrastructural resources. The teams train at the Padukone-Dravid CSE under the tutelage of head coaches who are supported by video analysts, physiotherapists, dieticians and a sports psychologist. The company’s Technical Director, a UEFA A licensed coach with international pedigree, thoroughly supervises the program.

The International Football Excellence Program (Residential) – Launching in April 2020, the IFEP represents an unparalleled opportunity for athletes to work toward their ambitions. It is the pinnacle of athlete development within the framework. Exceptionally talented players are invited to the IFEP, where players will live and train on campus at the Padukone-Dravid CSE (Infrastructure Partner), pursue their education and holistic development at DPS North (Education Partner), under the guidance of elite coaches at Boca Juniors India (Technical Partner). Each of these elite institutions is driven by the same objective.

A Through-pass

BJI creates opportunities for its players to engage with the game in diverse ways. A comprehensive list of regional, national and international tournaments acts as the framework of competitive football that BJI prides on.

For the year 2020, BJI has the following list of tournaments that will expose enrolled athletes to the standards of performance expected of them:

  • AIFF Hero Elite Youth League
  • The Amateur League – Division 2
  • AIFF Hero Juniors League
  • Double Pass Development League
  • AIFF Hero Sub Juniors League
  • KSFA Youth Premier League
  • Boca Internal League
  • Goa Super Cup
  • Bangkok International Super Cup
  • The Community League (AIFF approved Baby League)
  • Boca Baby League

In addition, BJI conducts Intensive Residential Camps annually. Herein, athletes train up to twice a day and take part in a number of co-curricular activities including horse-riding, public speaking, introductory football analysis, and other activities designed to foster a sporting culture. All of this provides insights into the demands of professional football.

Furthermore, BJI has collaborations with a number of foreign organizations to create a pathway to a footballing career for young player who have completed their schooling. As such, young adolescents earn an opportunity in competitive football while completing their tertiary education. Also, organizations like GPS, i2i, and numerous other clubs form a part of the Boca Juniors India professional network to sustain a student’s pathway to professional football.

Industry Acknowledgement

In its journey to provide each athlete with a sturdy foundation of footballing concepts, skills, and understanding, BJI’s immense efforts have been recognized by the industry in the following ways.

  • BJI is the highest rated football academy in South India.
  • BJI has been recognized as the No. 1 International Academy in the country for four years consecutively, with special acknowledgment from AIFF regarding BJI’s technical program.
  • BJI is the only academy in Bengaluru to compete in each age-group of the Hero Youth I-Leagues (U13, U15, and U18).
  • BJI organized the first-ever AIFF Baby League in Bengaluru.
  • Several graduates from BJI’s Excellence Program are currently pursuing football development and professional careers in Europe.

Future Trajectory

For forthcoming years, the school has laid out its roadmap across football development, player development, and football participation.

The school will promote the launch of the residential academy in 2020. For 2021, it will set up 15 Grassroots Football centers across Bengaluru, and three high-performance centers by 2022.

Within player development, BJI aims to have 30 players from its football centers transition to BJI’s Excellence Programs, with each elite competing in upto 40 competitive football matches. Additionally, it hopes that five graduates from its training programs compete in professional leagues in India and abroad by 2023.

Through its football participation, BJI hopes that 575 players enroll at Boca Juniors India affiliated technical programs across the city.

Words of Trust

Let’s hear from some of the students of BJI.

“Boca has given my son exactly what we were looking for, in terms of football training. Not only were they able to work on the weakness in his game, but they have taken his competitive ability to a new level. My son is so eager and ready to make football his entire life, and it is largely thanks to the work at Boca Juniors India.”

-Ninganahouda Patil (Father of Shreyas Patil)

Boca Juniors India Football Academy has had a huge impact on the development of my son Dhruv’s football skills. The training is very professional and the coaches are extremely competent, enthusiastic and friendly. The training sessions really push the players to their limits and these are complemented by regular practice matches. Boca puts a lot of emphasis on all aspects of a player’s development, including fitness, nutrition and psychology. It is a tremendous compliment to Boca’s training that when Dhruv joined an academy in Spain, the coaches found his football skills and fitness levels to be on par with the players from other countries. I would definitely recommend Boca to anyone who is interested in football.”

-Prashant Alva (Father of Dhruv Alva)

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