On football scene, Chandigarh enters elite club of cities


With FC Barcelona, the Spanish football giant and the world's second richest club, trying to get a foothold in Chandigarh by organising a five-day special football coaching camp at the Sector 17 Football Stadium from December 24 to 28, the question arises: is Chandigarh the new football hub of the region? The recent developments and the interest of several football clubs, most notably the La Liga champions, certainly indicate so.

The disbandment of JCT Football Club and the lacklustre performance of footballers from Punjab at the national level has coincided with the surge of Chandigarh football, and that is one of the reasons why apart from Goa, Bengal and the Northeast states, football clubs are showing interest in Chandigarh. The city players won the Under-14 National School Games football tournament just a week ago in Mumbai.

"Over the past few years, we have closely followed the growth of football in Chandigarh. The city has a lot of potential and we have seen players from Chandigarh emerging on the national scene. Frankly speaking, Chandigarh was our first destination after Delhi. With the Under-17 World Cup in sight, we want to provide the right platform and scout talented players in the age group of 5-18 for the future of Indian football," says Anu Jain, director of Conscient Football, the official partner of FC Barcelona's training arm, FCB Escola India.

Recently, Bhaichung Bhutia, India's legendary footballer, opened Bhaichung Bhutia Football School in Mohali. Before that, top clubs from Europe — Inter Milan, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Arsenal — organised selection camps here.

But the news of Barcelona showing interest in developing football in Chandigarh is big. FCB Escola, the official football school of FC Barcelona, follows the same successful youth development methodology as La Masia, the youth academy of the club which has produced three-time world footballer of the year, Lionel Messi, and other greats like Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, and made the tiki-taka style the new symbol of the beautiful game.

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