By Our Correspondent
Former Liverpool star Steve McMahon is venturing into Indian football and is looking for great opportunities in the cricket-loving country. He is opening the Steve McMahon Football Academy in partnership with the Carnoustie Group.
The academy will also be the official Liverpool FC Academy.
In the press conference on Wednesday in New Delhi, McMahon was accompanied by fellow Liverpool player and legend Ian Rush and Steven Turner, the head of Liverpool FC International Academy.
"The idea of the academy is to promote football in this country. Cricket is still the No.1 sport but the popularity of football is improving. The academy is open for all, boys and girls," said a very enthusiastic McMahon.
"There were lot of talks before relating to India and football and people wanting to start something, but we are now acting and walking the walk. We not only want to nurture young talent but hopefully make them into professional and international footballers," he added.
The first centre will be launched at Genesis Global School at Noida in October this year. The SMFA will enrol children from the age groups of under 8/10/12/14/16. McMahon himself would be the head coach and will be assisted by fellow ESPN-STAR Sports pundit, Paul Masefield.
Turner said that the main ambition of the academy is to start international academies all around India. "With Carnoustie Group we are looking to find the best possible way to become better and share with the local coaches and kids what we have learnt from Liverpool FC, we want to do it the Liverpool way," he added.
On asked whether the likes of Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll and Jamie Carragher would tour India along with the whole club in the near future, Turner said, "There is a possibility Liverpool might tour India but as of now nothing is confirmed. There is tour of Asia in 2013, but there is no clear idea of the schedule right now."
Blackburn Rovers are the other Premier League club to be interested in starting a football academy in India as the owners are Indian poultry giants, Venky's Group.
Ian Rush said one has to take things one step at a time. "The grassroots need to be targeted as you have to start slowly, then the local leagues and then so on," said Rush.
Other centres will also be opened around the country. Four centres in Delhi and NCR region. North East and East India will then follow and then centres will be opened in Mumbai, Goa and South India in the next 18 months.
McMahon also said that there is no tie-up with the AIFF. "We will help in any way possible, but no direct connection with the AIFF," he added.
"We expect about 500 children in each location and that is what we want, more the better. Our aim is to build small blocks and then move around the country. We are also hoping to send children from here to Liverpool FC and maybe, they will play for the club and other big European teams."
"There has been a lot of thought behind this academy and it has not been a spur of the moment decision," McMahon said.