Punch Soc­cer


India Today - - COVER STORY -

If you pre­fer to play a sport rather than sweat it out in a gym, here is your chance to try some­thing new. Shatadru Dutt, 26, coach and coowner of VS Sports Arena coaches a women’s foot­ball team thrice a week with no re­stric­tions of age, fit­ness or qual­i­fi­ca­tions. Also coach­ing them is Ria Rao, 23, a young foot­baller who rep­re­sented West Ben­gal in na­tional com­pe­ti­tions in the un­der 17 and un­der 19 cat­e­gory. A mot­ley crew made up of home­mak­ers, na­tional row­ing cham­pi­ons, marathon run­ners, bas­ket­ball play­ers and young cor­po­rates, have now made it a point to play the sport re­li­giously for two hours thrice a week. More are fol­low­ing suit. “The batch is ex­pand­ing so we might just start an­other one soon,” says Dutt.

The idea be­hind the academy was two-fold. One was for peo­ple like Ria Rao who loved the sport and played it in school and col­lege but had nowhere to keep play­ing foot­ball as a work­ing adult. The sec­ond was to de­velop the game fur­ther. Dutt who coached Rao in St Xavier’s Col­lege spot­ted the gap when he met more women like her. “The Cal­cutta Foot­ball League which is a fifth divi­sion foot­ball league has one of the old­est women’s foot­ball team and not many know about it. My aim is to build in­ter­est in the sport from the ground up so that more can play those leagues,” says Dutt.

The re­sults of their ex­per­i­ment speaks for it­self. Barely a cou­ple of months since the start of the Academy, Dutt says that “the girls are al­ready fit­ter and have greater stamina and en­durance, bet­ter tech­nique.” Rao be­lieves that foot­ball can trans­form your mind body and soul. “I am a dif­fer­ent per­son when I am play­ing. I eat bet­ter and sleep bet­ter,” says Rao.

At VS Sports Arena, 5A Sarat Bose Road, Lane be­side Chan­drani Pearls, Op­po­site Ashok Hall Girls Tel 7980116259 Price Rs 1,000 a month Email ro­[email protected]­mi­natys­portz.com

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