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Bappi Lahiri plans soccer academy

By M. Chhaya in Kolkata
May 28, 2004 20:16 IST
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Bollywood music director Bappi Lahiri is planning an academy. It's not one for music that he has in mind but, hold your breath, for football!

The musician, popularly known as 'Bappida', says the academy would come up in Mumbai, his adopted city where he earned fame and fortune lending his tunes to hundreds of films and music albums.

He has selected the chief coach for his planned academy. He is none other than Air India coach Bimal Ghosh.

But, why football?

Bappida insists he is a football fanatic since childhood and had learnt a lot about life from the game.

"I watched so many matches of Jarnail Singh, P.K. Banerjee, Chuni Goswami and Peter Thangaraj. I've always been a football fanatic," he says. "It's time I paid back something to the game."

Bappida, who often flies to Europe to watch the game there, counts David Beckham among his friends. The British soccer superstar even presented him an autographed football as a token of his friendship.

The musician is planning the academy with help from the Maharashtra football authorities.

Bappida has "earmarked two grounds". Talks are on with sponsors.

The residential academy will train 50 players at a time. The academy will primarily cater to talent from Maharashtra's districts, but trainees from West Bengal are also welcome.

Bappida says he also wants to revive the Rovers Cup with help from fellow Bollywood stars. He says stars like Aamir Khan, Suniel Shetty, Babul Supriyo and singer Shaan have evinced interest in the idea.

In the past, celluloid star Mithun Chakraborty had also spoken about starting a football academy, but the same is still to materialise.

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M. Chhaya in Kolkata