Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma, on Thursday, launched the Dare to Dream Academy, a football development centre by Dream Foundation, in collaboration with Assam Rifles Public School, BBFS Residential Academy, Indian Football Foundation and Baichung Bhutia Football School, at SAI, NEHU.
Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma, in his speech while expressing his gratitude to Dream Foundation and Baichung Bhutia for having selected Shillong in the State of Meghalaya for the first residential football academy in North East said that it is not only an honour for the State but it speaks a volume of the potential of the youth of the State and North East in general in Sports. He informed the gathering that the government of Meghalaya in the last few years through the STAR Talent Identification programme have scientifically tested on International Standards about five thousand children across Meghalaya. He said the talent identification program for athletes aims to identify talented athletes at a young and impressionable age and then hone their skills through curated training programs.
“We hope that in 2036 Olympics there will be a Sportsperson from Meghalaya winning a medal for the country and to realize this vision STAR Talent Identification Program was launched to identify sports talents and impart quality training as per international standards and to encourage the Coaches and Athletes Cash Award Scheme has been initiated,” he said.
He also said that as politicians, as bureaucrats and even as a society sometimes we fail to understand and realize the dreams and aspirations of the youth so the government is now making policies and programmes based on what the youth want and supporting youth in Sports, Music etc. He added that the youth have immense energy and we need to allow this energy ball to move in the right direction and it is with this thought that the government has been pursuing different youth programs. He hoped that the Academy will be a great opportunity for the youth of the region to excel in Football. He also expressed happiness that the Dream Foundation is planning to set up more centers of excellence in different fields.
“The North east is a powerhouse of athletes but the boys and girls of this area need the right nurturing, training and infrastructure and with such centers of excellence we will be able to showcase our strength and talent,” he added.
The Chief Minister also added that Sports is also an Economy and government is crucial in converging the different aspects in terms of support, making policies and providing infrastructure but different stakeholders need to play their role in making Sports an economy. “We need to look at the larger picture of how Sports can be remunerative, create jobs and be commercially viable therefore there is still a lot that needs to be done,” he said.
Earlier, in his speech Baichung Bhutia informed that the BBFS’ Foundation program offers best-in-class football coaching at the grassroots and youth levels. Children up to the age of 17 can train in any of BBFS’ training centers across India. He also added that a number of players that have graduated from the BBFSs and Residential Academies and are now playing for clubs are young boys from the North East. He also said that most of the football players are from Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya. He said that the concept of Residential Academy is to encourage young talents to become professional footballers and at the same time do not miss on their studies.
The center at present has 50 young boys from across the North East.