In an attempt to promote football in a cricket crazy country and attract the youth to the sport, former England and Liverpool player Steve McMahon on Wednesday announced the launch of 'Steve McMahon Football Academy' here in association with the British club.
The former Liverpool legend, who is well known to Indian football fans as an expert analyst, said it was the passion and commitment for the sport in the country which made him to come up with an idea of establishing the academy.
"I have been associated with this part of the world since last four-five years. The passion and commitment for the sport here is incredible. I approached my former club and they seemed to be interested too," said McMahon.
"There has to be development programme for the aspiring kids, teaching them in the right way. And if even one of the kids from this academy makes a mark at the international level it will be a big achievement," said the former football great, while insisting that things won't happen overnight.
The first of the official Liverpool academies in India is planning to open four centres across Delhi and national capital region (NCR) with the Genesis school in Noida being the first, informed McMahon, who will be the head coach and chief mentor of the academy.
He, however, did not divulge details of other facilities, but said that they are close to finalising the second venue and added that the other centres will take some time.
The Academy will be functional from the first week of October and envisages to enroll about 500 kids in different age groups at each of its two centres, the former England international informed.
Asked why did the club chose Delhi instead of Kolkata, a city with much bigger fan base for the game, McMahon said,"It is just the beginning," and added that they will be looking ahead to establish their centres across the country.
On the selection process, the footballer said it will be open to all. He also informed that the academy will charge a nominal amount as a fee from the kids. He did not disclose the exact amount but said they will be looking ahead to provide scholarships to the talented kids.
"Seeing the current scenario we will be charging a nominal amount from the kids. We are also looking at providing scholarships to the talented kids," said McMahon.
He also informed that if there will be any profits, they will be spent into the development of infrastructure.
"Money is not the issue. We are not here for making money and if there is any profit it will be put into the development of infrastructure. The basic idea is to build a strong foundation and to help the youngsters grow properly," he insisted.
Liverpool FC Soccer School Ambassador, Steven Turner said it is great pleasure to step into India.
Turner said the club has got a huge fan base in Asia, including India, and the launch of a Liverpool Academy in the country is a way to bring a part of the international club to fans here.
The club will be investing its time and efforts in the upbringing of the sport in India and if we come across a talent, which deserves international exposure, we will put forward his case, informed Turner.
Asked if the association with the McMahon academy will see the Liverpool team in action in India in near future, Turner said if the exercise is required to establish a stronger connect with the fans here "it will exactly do that".
Meanwhile, McMahon said the current state of football in India was not a great one.
Emphasising upon the current ranking of the Indian football team, which is placed at 158th position in the international standings, McMahon said, "The sorry state of the game is also because of the lack of infrastructure. The team would definitely intend to make it better."
He added that if the facility acts as a factor in improving the teams performance it will be a big plus.
McMahon also said that though it is a private entity it would welcome the prospect of working together with the All India Football Federation for the betterment of the game.
Answering a question regarding the academy's association with the AIFF, the footballer said, "We are a private entity and do not have any association with AIFF but if we can work together we will do that."