By William J. Furney
The Bali Times
CANGGU ~ The former club of British soccer star David Beckham, and one of the worldâ€™s biggest, officially announced this week that it plans to open a soccer academy in Bali.
Set on 5 hectares in Canggu, North Kuta, the Real Madrid Football Academy is to be completed by July 2009 and will feature three football pitches, classrooms, shower and locker rooms, a gym and canteen, the world-famous club said.
â€œThe academy soft-launch for the school year is scheduled starting August 2008 with the first group of up to 110 Indonesian and international students. Full academy facilities are expected to be completed by school year starting August 2009 with 220 students,â€ Read Madrid-Bali said in a statement.
The Bali venture is Real Madridâ€™s first in the Asia Pacific region and second in the world, following the establishment of an academy in Mexico.
Realindo Sports Indonesia, Real Madridâ€™s local firm, is overseeing the development of the Bali academy, its boss Jose Eduardo Nadal telling reporters this week that the famed tourism island was the perfect choice of location.
Indonesia had a large population that contained a lot of sports talent, he said.
Nadal announced the new development â€“ first reported by The Bali Times, in June â€“ following a meeting in Jakarta with National Sports Council chief Rita Subowo.
Subowo, who was recently elected a member of the International Olympic Committee and is the driving force behind next yearâ€™s Asian Beach Games in Bali, said the Bali academy would be a boost for Indonesiaâ€™s soccer hopefuls.
“I hope this academy will groom potential players who will become the future backbone of the national team,” she said.
For a 10-month training period, students will pay US$20,000.
â€œThe academy will provide football coaches from Real Madrid and local teachers for the school,â€ Readindo spokeswoman Agnes Debora told The Times.
The academy is expected to accommodate up to 220 students aged between 9 and 18, and students who excel will be selected to train with the Real Madrid team in Spain.
FIFA has named Real Madrid the â€œBest Club of the 20th Century.â€
Meanwhile, from December 16-29 this year, a two-week Football Camp organized by Realindo will be held at the Canggu Club, with around 60 local and foreign young players taking part.
The camp fee is US$2,300, covering accommodation at the nearby Legong Keraton Beach Hotel, air fare from Jakarta to Bali and a medical checkup and insurance.
Bucolic Canggu is fast developing into a desired location for expatriates living in Bali, with dozens of houses being built to accommodate rising demand. Only minutes from the business and tourist areas of Seminyak and Kuta, ocean-fronted Canggu now offers international-level schooling, hotels and other amenities.
Separately, British soccer club Arsenal said this week that it plans to become involved in Indonesiaâ€™s School Soccer (SSI) league.
â€œPlans are currently underway to create a league that will cater to SSI Arsenal’s needs to be carried out in early 2008. A never-before-seen level of detail for a youth competition will be implemented for this School Soccer-level league,â€ it said in a statement, adding that more details would later be announced.