Atletico de Kolkata to start football academy

Kolkata: Defending Indian Super League (ISL) champions Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) are planning to start a football academy, the franchise's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Subrata Talukdar said on Wednesday.

"We are presently planning to have a football academy, so we would want the corporate houses to come forward and support us," Talukdar told reporters here.

The team will be arriving in the city on Thursday after pre-season training in Spain, but they face a situation where they would not be able to practice at their home ground, Salt Lake Stadium, as it is still being prepared.

"The Salt Lake Stadium ground is still not ready and we don ot want to damage it before the season starts. So we are considering practicing at the Barasat Stadium, but then the surface there, is of astro turf. We have to wait and see what the coach tells us. We have also had a word with Mohun Bagan, if need be we can practice there," the CEO said.

"We also have the Salt Lake municipal ground on our minds but then it is an open ground and there can be problems relating to security. But hopefully we will be able to practice two-three days on the surface at Salt Lake stadium to get accustomed before the start of the league."

On Thursday, SRMB-steel manufacturers and construction company extended their sponsorship deal with the club and will have their logo on the ATK jersey this time around.

Speaking on it, SRMB director Ashish Beriwala said: "We are proud to have been with ATK for the second year running. Hopefully we will retain the title."

Asked about the team, Atletico co-owner Utsav Parekh said: "Our coach has said we have a better team this time, we have created an outfit that can go through to the final."

"In the coming years, the ISL will be able to compete with cricket and the IPL (Indian Premier League)," Parekh added, referring to the craze the league has generated in the country.

Talukdar added that the city has been able to send 10 boys to the Reliance Academy from the 24 that were selected last year.

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