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With 3500 trainees in 31 centres, LALIGA strives to make a difference in Indian football

LALIGA India delegate Aakriti Vohra gave the low-down on the league's grassroots initiatives and commitment to nurturing football talent in India.

With 3500 trainees in 31 centres, LALIGA strives to make a difference in Indian football



Aswathy Santhosh

Updated: 4 April 2024 7:59 AM GMT

LALIGA, Spain's premier football league, has taken a noble initiative to make a difference in Indian football, nurturing a new generation of football talent in the country.

"In late 2016 and early 2017, as part of LALIGA's internationalisation strategy, we opened an office in India," Aakriti told The Bridge, reflecting on the league's strategic expansion in India.

"And very soon we realised that one of the key pillars for our growth in the country would be letting the Indian consumer leverage the Spanish way of football through training and development," she added.

LALIGA Football Schools

Aakriti elaborated on the project called LALIGA Schools, "We launched in 2018 a pan-India project called the LALIGA Football Schools, focused on skill development and creating a pathway for young boys and girls seeking to firstly play the game of football or seeking professionalism in football through the Spanish curriculum or Spanish coaches."

She spoke passionately about LALIGA's vision beyond brand building.

"A part of our vision in the country has also been not just to build our own brand in the country, but also proactively develop the footballing capabilities of India," Aakriti, who worked with Sports Authority of India (SAI) in the past, emphasised.

Aakriti highlighted the impressive growth of the LALIGA Football Schools project.

"Today we had around 14 cities, 31 centres with 3500 boys and girls. And the idea is to keep growing every year until it is pan-India. There is no timeline, but it is a long-term project we intend to keep growing,' Aakriti stated.

Kajol D'Souza's emergence

She shared inspiring success stories from the initiative, notably highlighting the journey of Kajol D'Souza, who went from the LALIGA Football Schools in Pune to representing India at the Under-17 World Cup and securing a full scholarship in Madrid.

India international Kajol D'Souza is one of the famous trainees of LALIGA Football Schools.

"She was our standout talent. She began her journey at the Pune centre for LALIGA Football Schools. From there, she rose to represent India at the U-17 World Cup. Currently, she was on a full scholarship from LALIGA and our title sponsor, EA Sports, training in Madrid for a year," Aakriti said.

"Her education and footballing abilities were nurtured, leading her to become the youngest player called up by the senior national team. Recently, she proudly represented India at the Turkish Women's Cup. We were immensely proud of her and aspired to create more success stories like hers in the future," she added.

Meticulous programmes

Discussing the meticulous training programmes, Aakriti shed light on LALIGA'S commitment to ensuring quality coaching, stating, "We had a full-fledged department in Madrid, which was the sports project and the grassroots department that oversaw the LALIGA Football Schools program."

Speaking about the selection process for scholarships and international exposure, Aakriti assured transparency and fairness, stating, "We had very fair selection processes like that, which covered all our centers and everyone was put together and then the chosen one or the one that deserved it, made the cut."

Moving on to the LALIGA foundation's initiatives, Aakriti explained the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puaraskar winning Vicente Ferrer Anantapur Rural Development Trust's programme.

LALIGA India organized tournament

"Through our collaboration, we positively impacted the lives of 3000-4000 boys and girls. Additionally, we spearheaded the first-ever residential academy for girls. Here, 25 girls received holistic care, encompassing education and football training," she added.

Aakriti also emphasised LALIGA's holistic approach to building its brand in India, mentioning initiatives like localising digital content, hosting live screenings of El Clasico matches, and signing ambassadors like Rohit Sharma.

Through initiatives like the LALIGA Football Schools and strategic partnerships, LALIGA continued to empower Indian football, shaping the future of the beautiful game in the country.

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