They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and that has never been truer than it is in the current scenario, where the global coronavirus pandemic has helped breed innovation in almost everything we do – right from our regular interactions to daily modalities, such as the way we work and the way children learn. But when traditional education went online, no one imagined that sports education would follow, except for the founders at Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools (BBFS) who have launched their app enJogo – the first-ever football-based training app. The online launch event took place on September 4, 2020 on the eve of Teachers’ Day as a tribute to all Coaches and Sports Educators. The event was presided over by Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (I/C), and hosted by Bhaichung Bhutia, Padma Shri and Arjuna Awardee.
BBFS started as a humble passion-driven endeavour of 2 IIT-ians and India’s football legend, Bhaichung Bhutia in 2010. Having grown to become India’s largest football academy over the last decade, they faced a unique problem when due to the lockdown, thousands of children who they had been training on the field everyday suddenly lost the ability to play their favourite sport overnight. With the manpower (and willpower) of over a hundred coaches, they began to devise ways to keep reaching out to their children and make sure they continued to stay fit, active and socially engaged with their friends and coaches. The positive impact on the children was enough to see that there was an opportunity to continue training while at home.
The Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports (I/C), Kiren Rijiju shared his appreciation for the innovation that enJogo has sought in the field of sports, “Technology can revolutionize grassroots sports in India. The football training app ‘enJogo’ from Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools will enable young footballers across India to get access to proper online coaching to train remotely, which can also help in identifying talent from the remotest parts of the country.”
At the online launch event, Bhaichung Bhutia spoke about how the app can address a larger issue that exists in the development of football talent, “When I was growing up, there was not only a lack of infrastructure, but also a lack of good football coaches with the right knowledge to train us. It is one of the main reasons why I started this football academy that can reach out to children across the country. Although BBFS has expanded to more than 20 cities over the last 10 years, it is still not possible for us to physically reach every kid in India and give them the quality football coaching that they deserve. But now with enJogo, we have the ability to cross physical barriers and give every child the chance to learn and practice the game that they love.” enJogo has a library of workouts with in-built videos of drills with audio instructions that accompany a user while they workout. The workouts are custom made for different ages and skill-levels, and have a built-in mechanism for users to track their performance metrics easily.
Kishore Taid, CEO and Co-founder of BBFS envisions enJogo to be the future of sports development for players of various ages and skill-levels, “Our core strength lies in the fact that we have tailored a robust and proven curriculum from years of experience, and have now developed an easy-to-use tech solution that any boy, girl or adult can use to keep practising and improving everyday. For a sports-lover, gyms and regular exercises can seem mundane – children feel the same way too about traditional forms of exercise. But with enJogo, fresh workouts are added on a weekly basis. There are also online group sessions that children love because of their strong attachment to their friends and coaches – it’s something they look forward to each day.” Unlike the traditional on-field academy which is focused on children and teenagers, the app has football-based workouts for adults as well, since football is one of the most played sports by adults, but there are no platforms that exist for adults to practice and learn the game.
While one might question the effectiveness of practising a team sport on your own, Kishore insists that the value can be seen only when tried for oneself, “When Ronaldo completed his fitness tests after the lockdown, the results showed that he was in better shape than he was before the lockdown because of the amount of individual training that he put in. Playing on the field is not enough- if you really want to excel you need to work on yourself continuously with the right guidance and methodology and that’s exactly what enJogo will help all its users do.”