FORMER M-League players, K. Rajasegaran, V. Ravichandran and S. Karuppiah have joined forces with the Malaysian Indian Football Association (MIFA) junior development programme.
The trio will spearhead the MIFA Beyond Football programme’s centre in Puchong. All three had played as defenders for their respective teams.
Rajasegaran, an officer with RHB, played for Selangor in 1987. He was also a member of Kwong Yik Bank in the Football Association of Selangor (FAS) league and FAM Cup competition.
Ravichandran had played for Pahang in 1992 while Karuppiah had featured for Kuala Lumpur and Belia Sinaran in the FAS league.
Currently about 100 youths are involved in the weekly two-day training programme for three age groups – Under-14, Under-16 and Under-20.
Rajasegaran said they were pleased to be part of the programme targeting youths.
“We have experience and have been involved in football for almost 20 years. We have also played for some established teams in the country. The experience will certainly help us in this programme.
“We are looking at creating a platform for youngsters to be involved in a healthy activity. We hope to see them progress in football. There are a lot of opportunities for them,’’ said Rajasegaran.
Karuppiah, a hard-tackling defender during his playing days, said they were concentrating on the Under-14 and Under-16 age groups.
“We have a group of children below 12 years old. We want them to learn the basics. We want to emphasise to the kids the importance of playing with both the left and right legs. The drills are tailored for that and the kids are adapting well to the system.
“Within two years, they should be able to play with both legs.
“Once they have mastered these skills, it will be easy for us to venture into other skills in football. It is important for them to go through a structured training programme.
“Several parents with football knowledge have come forward to assist us in the programme,’’ said Karuppiah.
To make the training sessions interesting, Rajasegaran also invites football academies in the Klang Valley for friendly matches.
“The matches are for the trainees to gauge their progress. Our trainees will also get the chance to watch their counterparts from other football academies. It will encourage them to work harder in training,’’ said Rajasegaran.
MIFA president Datuk T. Mohan said they initiated the programme to encourage youths to be active in football.
“We are thankful to the Socio-Economic Development of the Indian Community (Sedic) for coming forward to support the programme. We had also organised administrative, coaching as well as referee courses. Currently, we have 33 centres in the country.
“After almost five months, we have been getting positive feedback. We are also encouraged by the support from parents,’’ said Mohan.
Former international Datuk Santokh Singh has been appointed the MIFA Beyond Football programme’s ambassador.
He has been going to the centres to share his experience with the trainees.
Mohan said several other former internationals like Datuk M. Karathu have also visited the centres.
“We will also be organising competitions at the zones which will culminate with the grand finals,’’ added Mohan.
MIFA are also involved in the FAM Cup and Belia Cup in the M-League.
In the FAM, MIFA have joined forces with the Malaysian Indian Sports Council (MISC).
MISC-MIFA are currently second in Group A of the FAM Cup and are in a good position to qualify for the quarter-finals. Mohan said the MIFA Beyond Football programme would also serve as a platform to identify new talents for the FAM Cup and Belia Cup.