Martin Moonsamy's mission to groom the next Indian football stars
Moonsamy made his professional debut for Chippa United in 2012 and is the only Indian footballer to have enjoyed prolonged game time since the introduction of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) over 20 years ago.
Now retired from the pro scene, Moonsamy, 31, is back home in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, on a mission to develop the region’s next soccer star.
“I have seen many Indian footballers around the country who have the ability to cut it in the PSL, but sadly they never get the opportunity,” he said.
Moonsamy says that has been the driving force behind his academy, MM Stars, which he launched in 2016 after hanging up his boots. He last played for Cape Town National First Division (NFD) club, Santos.
“The most important thing is to understand the basics. Everything else flows once a player has the fundamentals,” Moonsamy said.
“I know that my story has inspired players, now I feel it is important for me to share my knowledge and help groom other players.”
Two years on, the academy boasts over 60 juniors between the ages of 8 and 12. Next month they embark on their biggest challenge yet: a trip to the Middle East to compete at the Dubai International Super Cup.
“We will be taking 19 kids over. Many of them have never travelled overseas before. This is a big deal for kids,” Moonsamy said.
“There will be academies from around the world at the tournament, so it is good opportunity for our players to compare their ability against other kids their age. There will also be scouts in attendance. It is such an amazing chance for our kids to get noticed,” he said.
Moonsamy admitted that he still had plenty left in him when he retired from playing soccer, but he was forced to do so because he failed to get a long-term deal.
A product of the renowned Stars of Africa Academy, founded by former Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach Farouk Khan, Moonsamy got his big break with the “Chilli Boys” after two impressive seasons in the NFD for FC AK.
“Being at an academy is important because it teaches you structure. The moment we create that, we are going to see plenty of Indian footballers breaking through,” Moonsamy said.
“I have some really talented kids in the academy. The natural ability is there, you can see it. This trip is going to do a lot for them,” he said.