It was a humid autumn morning, the boys were sweating after their hour-long practice session with coach Lay Gala and gaffer Ajay Menon. Dressed in their all yellow outfits, Forza’s promising youngsters showed no signs of fatigue, which was quite amazing considering the arduous training drills they were put through in the scorching daylight. Scores of anxious parents talked to the gaffer after practice regarding various issues such as their kid’s nutrition, sportsmanship spirit, how to understand Forza’s football culture better and what to expect in the upcoming days. Forza generally conducts most of their regular sessions and seasonal camps in Mumbai at Dream Sports Fields inside the Inorbit Mall premises at Malad.
Two hours earlier, when the U-13 squad stepped onto the turf coach Lay called for a team huddle explaining how each player should first and foremost, focus on the technique and then think of executing the tactics that the gaffer had elucidated. The focal point of the session was to make the amateurs comprehend off the ball movements and exploit open space. Looking at the vast pool of talent, our crew asked Ajay, gaffer and founder of Forza about how they balance the diversified mentality of the players. He replied with a grin, “Quite a whopping number of them have played in school, while a few of the kids have just learnt to kick the ball yesterday. Our aim is to groom the craze of football in the youngsters initially and so forth lay the foundation of a strong football culture with our rigid and flawless indoctrinate.”
“Forza” in Italian means “Come On”, and is hugely analogous to football. The outspoken word is “Forza India” was coined by a social media admin who runs the AS Roma English Twitter handle. Ajay is an ardent football crusader turned entrepreneur, who decided to leap his faith from the corporate world into the world of coaching by launching the Academy in April 2018. Being the founder of AS Roma India and asked about Forza’s long-term plans, Ajay revealed “Rome has always been a preferred destination, but ideally we hope to tie up with some Academies in The AFC (Asian Football Confederation) itself by the next year. My association with AS Roma goes back a long way and they are always open to the thought of Academies going to Rome and availing their coaches and facilities but it’s way too soon for our kids apparently. We want to take it gradually, participate in the MDFA (Mumbai District Football Association) leagues initially and then, prepare respective squads for the u-13, U-16 and U-18 Youth League organised by the AIFF.”
Lay Gala is a deep-lying playmaker who has represented India at the U-20 Futsal World Cup held in Chile. Lay has been on board since inception and is an integral part of the Forza India Academy bucking up from logistics to marketing. During practice sessions, he always aims to strike a fine balance between tactical and technical drills. But in Lay’s words,” If Forza’s product, i.e. our coaching strikes a rhythm with our kids, the technical part of a player is bound to improve. That is the philosophy I-League clubs like Neroca, Aizawl FC and Minerva Punjab has implemented and yielded results successfully. It has been a roller-coaster ride but definitely, things have improved. From coaching precisely five players in the introductory week to managing two batches today, we always suggest our players to perform downright warm-up before practice and stay hydrated. Our holistic planning is the reason behind our success, due credit to Ajay and Ashutosh too.”
The Forza management, which consists of Ajay, Lay and their “digital custodian” Ashutosh Mishra feel scouting needs to improve at the grassroots tier in India and the entire process needs to be more hassle-free and professional. Lay and Ajay want their different age-group teams to participate in the upcoming Conscient World Cup in December and then, play in the MDFA League next year. They hope this gradual arrangement will pay dividends in fulfilling their long-term objectives of playing in the I-League one day. In Bocca Al Lupo, good luck Forza!