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From Sudip Charaborty to Debjit Majumder, this academy in Kolkata continues to produce top players

From Sudip Charaborty to Debjit Majumder, this academy in Kolkata continues to produce top players

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 6 Feb 2021 10:22 AM GMT

Nestled in a peaceful pocket on the banks of the Hooghly river, Uttarpara Netaji Brigade has been one of the most important conveyor belts in terms of producing young footballers in the city of Kolkata. Established in 1971 at the peak of the Bangladeshi liberation struggle, the academy has produced a number of players who have played for some of the top clubs in the country as well as represented India at the international level.

Former India international Sudip Chakraborty was the first to make it big, going on to play for both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in an illustrious career. Soumik Dey is another well-known name who emerged from here and has turned out for East Bengal and Kerala Blasters amongst others. Then there are the more recent academy graduates like Pritam Kotal, Debjit Majumder, Narayan Das, Arijit Bagui and Sourav Das, all of whom are currently playing in the Indian Super League (ISL) or the I-League.

Sudip Chakraborty from Uttarpara Netaji Brigade academy Former India international Sudip Chakraborty (Source: Facebook)

The academy, which is in its 50th year of existence, currently has two batches of players, seniors and juniors. “While the senior batch has close to 40 youngsters, the junior group has around 30 budding talents. Mr. Simanta Das looks after the training for the seniors. The juniors on the other hand train under Mr. Kartick Arosh and Mr. Bikash Rana, both C-license holders. They are assisted by goalkeeping coach Santanu Basel and power trainer Chiranjit Malakar. The veteran Sudip Chakraborty is the Technical Director of the club and the academy,” explained founder Sanjoy Chakraborty.

Practice has resumed post the lockdown with sessions scheduled for every day of the week barring Monday. When asked about the upcoming prospects who are ready to take the baton forward, club member and manager Subhajit Chakraborty said, “There are 5-6 highly rated players within our ranks right now who will be ready to step up in the next couple of years. Hopefully, they can carry our legacy forward in the future.”

The most heartwarming aspect of their work is that the players who train at the academy do so without having to pay a single penny out of their own pockets. The members take care of the finances and also pay half the expense for their medical insurance. As far as the day to day operations is concerned, East Bengal have been a constant support in that respect for the past 10 years and have time and again helped them out with resources, both financial and otherwise.

It is institutions like these which need to be nurtured if Indian football is to realize its true potential. A lot more needs to be done in terms of recognizing academies like Uttarpara Netaji Brigade for what they are, the lifeline for football in our country. Only then can we tap into the talent pool that exists beyond metro cities and develop the next generation of players holistically.

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