Coach saves earnings to nurture soccer talent

Coach saves earnings to nurture soccer talent

The future of domestic sport lies at the feet of new talent, youngsters are dreaming of playing in stadiums abroad and not at home.

The future of domestic sport lies at the feet of new talent, youngsters are dreaming of playing in stadiums abroad and not at home. There is someone who wants to fulfill the dreams of these youngsters. If one hears the sacrifices of this coach, any player would be moved to tears.
QSC Academy’s team along with coach Rakesh Manikoth (centre) at the Gymkhana Grounds
Meet Rakesh Manikoth who mortgaged his wife’s jewellery to keep his team alive. With no support from any corner, helpless but determined Rakesh hopes that the new TRS government would encourage young talented soccer players.

“Endemic problems over the last four decades have slumped the nation to a new low. India is ranked 149 out of 209 countries in FIFA world rankings,” says Rakesh who sees a lot of potential in Hyderabad players.

Quartz Soccer Club (QSC), set up in 1976 in Kozhikode, Kerala, opened an academy at the Gymkhana Grounds, Secunderabad, in June 2010. An A division side in the above mentioned port city, Quartz was a prominent team in the Seth Nagjee tournament, a competition quite popular among players of the sport. “We chose Hyderabad going by its rich history, having produced Olympians such as Noor Mohammed, Zulfakharuddin and Peter Thangaraj,” says Rakesh, an IT professional and Gachibowli resident, who juggles time between office and playground to run the scheme.

From 6 am each day, two groups of 24 and 30 children, aged under 15 and 19 years respectively, train under Rakesh's watchful eye till about 9 am, extended to 10 am on the weekends. The best part is, it is free of cost for the children. He is now training the younger generation in the age group of 8 and 10.

“After obtaining approval from the All India Football Federation (AIFF), Quartz Soccer is hoping to raise a professional team in the I-League ‘B' Division this season and if more children play, we'll have a bigger talent pool to pick players from,” reasons Rakesh.

“From formation of the team, we are giving ourselves two years to get promoted to the I-League's A division,” the Kozhikode native said.

QSC coach Rakesh Mannikoth is not unduly disheartened though but looks ahead. Instead he draws strength even from defeat. With no facilities, he manages to train wherever he gets a piece of land. One has never heard of a sacrifice wherein he transports the players in his personal car and encourages them to play.

“Sponsors have been showing interest in our side. But we are looking at a long-term association, say five years, which would be mutually beneficial. Thanks to KT Mahi, our team has been residing and training at Srinidhi International School. They have been facilitating the ground on holidays but travel for the city boys is difficult,” said Amitha Kommadath, a director with QSC.

Indian sport is today in a poor state of organisation. Its superstructure is top heavy; some of its foundations are built on shifting sands. The entire edifice has been corroded with jealousies and prejudices, provincialism and communalism, anomalies and stupidities. The public is largely indifferent to sportsmen till someone wins a world title and then it cannot have enough of him or her.

Working as an IT professional, this 36-year-old coach is investing all his earnings on the team but he needs the support of government and sponsors for his team to make it to world events.

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