Pune: Bharat FC reaffirmed their commitment to building a comprehensive footballing structure by inducting renowned English coach, Barry Knowles, as the head of the Bharat FC youth academy program. The 55-year-old Knowles arrived in Pune last week and has already begun work on developing a well-rounded youth structure for the development and nurturing of young footballing talent present in the city.
Knowles, born in Wigan, is a former professional footballer who has more than 300 appearances to his credit for five distinguished clubs in England. Having signed for Southport FC at the beginning of the 1978-1979 season, Knowles moved to Runcorn FC, Barrow AFC and then to Wigan Athletic where he enjoyed great success. An attacking full-back, Knowles retired from professional football at the age of 33 and dived straight into coaching, taking up a youth academy role with Wigan Athletic.
The 55-year-old is credited with spotting current England international Leighton Baines’ potential and was instrumental in getting the full-back in to Wigan’s youth system after Liverpool FC had released the youngster. Knowles then moved on to coaching roles with former Premier League side Blackpool FC, where he served as the head of youth development and was also an important constituent at the youth setup of Chester City FC. His last assignment was as the head coach at Burnley College Football Academy. Amongst the first coaches in England to complete the UEFA A License, Knowles has also worked with clubs like Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Amit Kalyani, Managing Director, Bharat FC said that Knowles appointment was made keeping in mind the Englishman’s proven work with young players and the ability to put in place holistic development programs that ensure the all-round development of talented young footballers. “We are very happy to welcome Barry to Bharat FC. He comes with an impeccable reputation and we hope that he emulates the high standards that he has set in England. The Bharat FC youth academy is a project very close to the hearts of everyone here at the club and we believe that with Barry’s appointment we have made a very good start in putting together a top-class youth program here at Bharat FC,” he said.
Knowles said he was very excited by the prospect of working in a youth academy setup in India when Bharat FC’s head coach Stuart Watkiss first indicated that there might be an opening at the club. “Stuart has a great reputation in England and when he told me about the chance to come to India, I was really excited. Indian football is growing rapidly and from what I have seen, the youngsters here are really willing to learn, absorb new things and improve. I think that’s a great foundation and we can definitely build upon that. My goal is to give Bharat FC the best youth system in this country,” he said.
Bharat FC are currently in the process of constructing their own training ground at Manjri. The custom-built, state-of-the-art facility will house the club’s academy and Bharat FC has plans to put together under-9, under-11, under-13, under-15, under-17 and under-19 teams in their youth structure. Another unique aspect of this youth setup will be that the academy will be giving preference to young aspirants from Pune.
Sanjay Trivedi is honorary editor of Asia Times. He is senior Indian Journalist having vast experience of 25 years. He worked in Janmabhoomi, Vyapar, Divya Bhaskar etc. newspapers and TV9 Channel as well as www.news4education.com. He also served as Media Officer in Gujarat Technological University.