Minerva Academy FC were adjudged winners of the Football for Friendship Award 2021 last Sunday.
The 2021 edition of the award was held as part of the Ninth Season of the Forum of the International Children’s Social Programme Football for Friendship.
The purpose of this award is to attract attention to problems of children’s football development, with its main goal being to identify new online and offline ideas for sports training for young footballers and promotion of these ideas among interested individuals and organizations.
The applicants submit their projects – essentially ideas, tools, or mechanics that can be applied by organizations specializing in football training. The project must answer a set of key questions, such as what problem the project solves, what resources are needed to implement the project, etc. The organizing committee then reviews the applications and hands the title to the worthy winner.
As such, Minerva Academy FC won the award for the unique and relevant Project AFCAI (Association of Football Clubs and Academies in India).
After participation from projects all over the world, the grand finale was held online to announce the winners. Keiren Nokes, UEFA sponsorship manager, announced the International F4F Award in the presence of the ambassador of the award, Roberto Carlos. In the nomination of Football for Friendship Nine Values, Minerva Academy snapped up the award.
The project identified the pertinent problems of politics, high costs, and a lack of sustainability associated with setting up and operating a local football club or academy in India. Within the same spectrum lies the problem of a lack of knowledge, resources, opportunities and support, particularly for the smaller grassroots academies.
As the name suggests, AFCAI aims to address these issues by bringing together clubs and academies from all over the country and networking them on a common platform. This allows for the free-flowing exchange of ideas and resources. It acts as a non-profit, one-stop shop for common issues faced by academies, thereby making everyone involved stronger together.
Ultimately, AFCAI aims to change the way regional grassroots and community-driven clubs are perceived, and to empower them to grow and succeed for the overall good of football in India.
AFCAI is indeed a pathbreaker for Indian football, because along with the domain-expertise, the organization reflects Nine important values – all of which are pivotal in the overall development of the youth.
The Nine Values reflected by AFCAI are:
1) Friendship – Bridging the gap between clubs/academies from all parts of the country and bringing them together for free exchange of knowledge.
2) Equality – Helping one and all, new or existing academies, rich or poor, urban or rural, with equal access to opportunities.
3) Fairness – Sharing and exchanging knowledge and resources freely and helping all members access the best possible resources and support.
4) Health – Helping local clubs/academies succeed by establishing themselves in their regions, thus improving overall awareness about health and wellness at community level.
5) Peace – Promotion of sport at community level, keeping youth engaged with the sport, away from crime and violence.
6) Devotion – We believe that we are indebted to the wonderful sport of football and it is our act of Devotion to help other clubs/academies to succeed as well.
7) Victory – Victory is often a measure of success. We help our members be victorious by supporting them in overcoming challenges.
8) Tradition – We promote the value of tradition by pledging to help other small football academies/clubs succeed and grow. All our members now follow the same tradition of offering help and support to others.
9) Honor – Honor should not be denied to any stake holder – big or small – serving the sport of football. To be treated with dignity themselves and offering a mutual respect to other members is at the core of our foundation.
Having stamped their authority in Indian football in next to no time, Minerva Academy wanted to share their success secrets with clubs and academies who could identify with them – namely those who have big ambitions but operate on a small budget. Minerva Academy’s youth teams (U-13, U-15, U-18) have consistently been winning trophies for the past five years. This makes Minerva the pioneer and perfect candidate to promote effective ideas and their implementation.
As of now, AFCAI already boasts 270+ members from 23 different states and 55+ districts across India. Over a billion people have engaged in AFCAI activities so far and 18 academies have already been set up successfully.
On the occasion of winning the Football for Friendship Award, Director of Minerva Academy FC, Henna Bajaj weighed in her thoughts, “We’re delighted to have won the award. And more importantly, we hope that AFCAI’s presence increases multifold so that we have more quality football clubs and academies in India, enabling us to become a football powerhouse.”