The twenty four odd players entering the academy would be on a full scholarship….

For Technical Director Karnagaran (Katz) Naidoo, setting up the Dempo Sports Club’s academy fulfilled a long standing desire. The South African born Confederation of African Football (CAF) “A” License holder and Senior Instructor has vast experience having served his nation both as a National Selector, Convenor of the National  Youth Selectors and is widely recognized as a Football Youth Specialist Coach. The much travelled coach set up the Maritzburg United Football Development Programme which is a professional outfit in South Africa, had a stint in a Norwegian Academy of Vikings FC, which he still has close ties with, and has also done extensive research on Academies in the Netherlands on behalf of his National Body. Yet, in spite of all this something was missing. 

“Although I have travelled around the world and set up academies in South Africa and worked in different parts of Africa, Norway and The Netherlands, setting up this academy has given me immense satisfaction as it helped me give back to the country of my origin. Setting up Dempo’s latest investment in football has been immensely satisfying”, he said speaking about his newest creation. The South African would know a thing or two about producing players after being closely involved with the Transnet and Simba National Development Programmes, as well as the Transnet School of Excellence a National Academy for exceptional South African youth players, where notable figures like Steven Peinaar, Brice Moon, Brit Evans, Mubelo Oldjohn and many others emerged as national heroes playing at global platforms.


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It would not be incorrect to say that Dempo Sports Club’s academy would be the best in the business- in line with the vision of club President Shrinivas Dempo. The academy would have a state of the art grass pitch to begin with and an artificial turf in the later stages along with an administrative block and the residential block where the players would reside in. The academy programme would be collapsible, meaning that the academic side would also given importance, training frequency would be in line with the school time-table, as Katz’s says that it is important that we don’t breed parasites, good footballers need good basic education because the industry has many financial streams after a footballer’s days come to end. There he sees education as insurance for the aspiring player.

The twenty four odd players entering the academy would be on a full scholarship and their typical day would involve breakfast in the morning, attending school, training for about an hour to ninety minutes after lunch, followed by studies and dinner.

The training regime would be governed by the LTPD, (long term player development) which is age related and aligned to the Dempo development curriculum that he has developed based on the ‘culture and characteristics’ of Indian players. For example in year one the focus would be to consolidate their natural skills and insights into basic tactics within the game method of training. There will be no real attention given to their conditioning, because at their age they are self – conditioned.

Science would feature in testing their progress in areas like agility, coordination and balance which are the key ingredients in improving their performance. Dietary needs would be strictly monitored and balanced because refuelling is paramount to growth. Regular medical checks would be conducted.

The players will be assessed on factors based on the LTPD on a monthly basis and quarterly reports would be forwarded to their parents or guardians. Other essentials like after study, social and life skills activities would also feature during their internship. The academy would be a ‘home away home’ with a mission to excel and hopefully, some years down the line this academy would produce a player that would run past defenders with ease, step over a couple of more, nutmeg the third and shoot the ball into the top corner, and if that happens Indian football would surely be the winner.