While the Mumbai story stands out because it is so blatant, there are any number of cases in Delhi too, of parents being rich pickings for cricket ‘coaches’ promising their wards a life under the arclights.
Almost every other street corner has a cricket ‘academy’ that purports to have a big name player attached to it. Only a few are actually run by top cricketers.
In the remainder, though these academies tell parents that a star player will personally shepherd their son’s career, what actually happens is this: The player in question may have inaugurated the academy, may drop in for an hour or so on weekends, or, if the kids are lucky, may drop in every now and then and give them a few casual tips.
There was a Kapil Dev academy at the Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa College that perhaps even Kapil Dev has never seen.
There’s a Chetan Chauhan academy in Saket where officials will tell you that Chauhan drops in to every Sunday, but young players there tell you he doesn’t. There’s an Atul Wassan academy at the DDA sports complex there, a Surinder Khanna academy at Pritam Pura, the list is endless. Oh, and there’s a Ramakant Achrekar academy in Paschim Vihar, though everyone knows Achrekar lives in Mumbai.
The Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) says there is no monitoring system in place to check the mushrooming of private academies. “We don’t have any idea at all as to how many academies there are in Delhi, or what they do,” says DDCA Sports Secretary Sunil Dev. “If we watch over them and require them to register with us, then they can start misusing our (the DDCA’s) name,” Dev adds. “Anyone can start an academy.”
That’s true. And that’s exactly what many enterprising souls with a get-rich-quick plan have done.