The first-ever India-based Manchester United Soccer School, which was set up last November, has started functioning inside Cooperge football ground here from January 30 and the boys got to train on Wednesday, with two legends of the famous Premier League Club.
Top MU players of yesteryears, Denis Irwin and Quinton Fortune, took part in a training session with the children of the club's Mumbai-based school on the artificial turf set up at the Cooperage ground by world football governing body FIFA.
Head coach of the MUSS in Mumbai, Chris O'Brien, told a media conference that the school would train the children in exactly the same way as MU Academy does in its home base in the UK.
"The training these kids would receive will be identical to what children undergo in the Manchester United Academy. It will be a five-day in a week session and we have started with the dribbling module first (lasting five weeks). It will be a positive learning experience," he informed.
"Importance will also be given to physical fitness and diet. There would also be (theory) classes. Education is as important as practical sessions," he added.
The five-week module training at the school, for which MU has joined hands with the state football body - Western Indian Football Association, costs Rs 12,600 each, it was learnt.
Three hundred children have enrolled for the first module.
"We will identify 100 talented children (who cannot afford the fees otherwise) for year-long training," said WIFA CEO Henry Menezes on the sidelines of the conference.
Menezes said that the entire Cooperage ground, which is undergoing a total revamp, will be up and running by the beginning of next season with the construction of stands with bucket seats, that is to be taken up from tomorrow, on the eastern and western sides of the areana.
"The stands can be dismantled and will have bucket seats. We are hoping to conduct a few I-League matches after the month-long break (in the league) if possible," Menezes said.
With the Cooperage ground being under renovation, local I-League teams Air India and Mumbai FC have been forced to play their home matches in Pune's Balewadi Sports Complex.
There is a small artificial pitch on the north side of the ground, along with four floodlight towers, to be used by the MUSS children. "Yet another pitch will be set up on the southern side (behind the players' dressing rooms)," Menezes said.
According to Menezes, the entire cost of the floodlights in four corners of the main turf as well as the turf has been borne by FIFA.
"The cost of laying the smaller turfs for children is borne by Manchester United club," he added.