About Young Champs

The Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) academy launched in May 2015 with the vision of identifying talented young footballers and providing them an environment of excellence to unlock their potential both on and off the pitch.

Supported entirely by the Reliance Foundation, each year RFYC offers fully funded scholarships to young talents from across the country following a comprehensive yearlong scouting process.

At RFYC, we understand that each scholar is a child first, a player second and that not every player graduating from the academy will forge a professional career in the sport. We take our duty of care very seriously and holistic development of each individual child under scholarship is at the core of everything we do. Away from the pitch, we focus on imparting life skills and top - level education to each child who comes through our doors.

The academy is currently recognized by the All India Football Federation as the nation’s first only 5 Star rated residential academy under their ‘Academy Accreditation Programme', making RFYC the best academy in the country over the past few years. RFYC has also been awarded a 2 Star rating by the Asian Football Confederation under their ‘Elite Youth Scheme’, giving the academy recognition on a continental level.

Based in Navi Mumbai with state of the art facilities and dedicated multi-disciplinary full time staff, RFYC currently hosts 90 children from around the country playing across five age groups (U14, U15, U16, U17, and U19).

RFYC Academy Timeline

2015

Academy opens its doors

The Academy welcomed its first intake of scholars for its u-12, u-13, and u-14 teams.

2017

Voted India's Best Football Academy

The Academy is voted as India's Best Football Academy, earning 4 star rating from the AIFF.

2017

Young Champs head to RCP

The  Reliance Foundation builds a World Class Training Facility for the Young Champs at Reliance Corporate Park

2019

Building on Previous Success

The Academy earns a highest-possible 5/5 star rating from the AIFF (becoming India's first ever 5 star rated Academy)

2019

RFYC wins the Youth League

RFYC wins the AIFF Hero Sub-Junior Youth League!

2020

AFC Acknowledges RFYC

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) confers a 2 star rating upon RFYC, the highest rating given to an Indian Academy!

2020

First Batch of Players Graduates!

The first batch of Young Champs graduates from the Academy, with 9 players signing long term contracts with ISL Clubs!

MeetOur Staff

Sandro Salami

Head of Youth
Netherlands 30 Years Old

Sandro Salami is the Head of Youth at the Reliance Foundation Young Champs. With over 10 years of coaching experience at several professional clubs in the Netherlands, he holds a UEFA B license. He recently worked as a youth coach at Dutch clubs NEC and PSV Eindhoven before joining RFYC in 2018

Stephen Charles

Head of Scouting
India 31 Years Old

Stephen Charles is the man tasked with travelling the length and breath of the country to find the next batch of Young Champs. Always on the move, Steve manages a vast network of scouts spread across India and ensures that he finds every diamond encrusted needle in a haystack as diverse as India. 

Arata Izumi

U-18
India 40 Years Old

After a glittering playing career spanning across Asia's biggest leagues and representing India internationally, Arata joined RFYC in 2018. He holds an AFC A License, and currently coaches the U-18s at Young Champs.

Jose Marcio Barreto Ramires

U - 16
Brazil

Jose Barreto is a decorated former professional football player with over 200 appearances for Indian top division clubs Mohun Bagan and the erstwhile Mahindra United Football Club during his footballing career. A graduate of Gremio’s academy, Barreto played professionally in Japan, Malaysia and India. Post his retirement in 2014, Barreto was appointed as the Assistant Coach of Atlético de Kolkata before joining the Young Champs in 2015.

Gumpe Rime

Head Coach - Goalkeeping
India 47 Years Old

Head Goalkeeper Coach Gumpe Rime is a former professional goalkeeper with a career spanning over two decades. Gumpe represented clubs such as Mahindra United, Vasco, Salgaocar and Shillong Lajong. He holds an AFC A and an AFC GK Level 3 License. He's also a certified Coach Educator holding an AFC C & AFC GK Level-1 educator's license. Having previously coached at the Tata Football Academy and Shillong Lajong FC, Gumpe has been with the Reliance Foundation Young Champs since 2017.

Jignesh Antala

Academy Operations Manager/ Goalkeeping Coach
India 31 Years Old

Not only does Jignesh serve as a Goalkeeping coach at RFYC, he is also the go-to guy for all day-to-day administration of the Academy! He joined the Reliance Foundation Young Champs in 2015. He holds and AFC C license as well as an AFC Goalkeeper Level 1.

Sameer Shaikh

U - 16
India 49 Years Old

Holding an AFC A License, and an AIFF D and E instructor's license, Sameer has previously had coaching stints with the Liverpool-DSK Shivajians Academy and the Chennaiyin FC Reserve Team while also serving as their Head of Youth Development, after having represented Army Greens at national levels as a player. He has been working with the Reliance Foundation Young Champs since 2019.

Dipankur Sharma

U - 15
India 31 Years Old

Dipankur is one of the newest coaches at the academy, but has extensive experience working in India, Spain, and Mexico. A trained Lawyer, Dipankur brings a keen eye and attention to detail to all his training sessions!

Don Arnold Danthi

Team Manager/U - 15
India 29 Years Old

Team Manager Arnold is the beating heart of the Young Champs academy. When not running pillar to post ensuring the academy runs smoothly, he serves as the head coach for the U-13s, educating all the newcomers in playing the Young Champs way!

Saksham Kakkar

U - 14
India 31 Years Old

Saksham Kakkar started his journey coaching high school football while still in college himself. Having since coached at Kenkre FC, FC Barcelona Academy India, and Bengaluru FC before joining the academy in 2016, Saksham brings over a decade worth of coaching knowledge and experience to the Young Champs. He holds an MSc. in Sports coaching and an AFC A license accreditation. 

Yashvender Singh

U - 14
India 20 Years Old

A former Young Champs player himself, Yashvender is the youngest member of the coaching staff. He brings a unique insight into the life of a youth player, and is a tremendous source of knowledge and inspiration for the players at a very young age himself.

Padma Rewari

Head of Child Welfare and Education
India 50 Years Old

A mother away from home, our head Counsellor and Mentor/Child Welfare Officer holds a Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy from Indian Global University and MSc. in Psychotherapy and Counselling from IPMS. With over 25 years of field experience as a counsellor, and having worked with the Tata Insitute of Social Sciences. and psychotherapist working exclusively with child related projects. She has been with the academy since its inception in 2015.

Durva Vahia

Head of Performance
India 31 Years Old

A former player and coach herself, Durva's expertise lies in maximising the performances of players (and making excellent presentations). She holds an MSc. in Sports and Health Science, AFC B license, and AFC GK level 1 accreditation.

Aniket Shetty

Performance Analyst
India 25 Years Old

After completing his Masters in Sports Management, Aniket worked with the high performance department at the HN Reliance Foundation Hospital before joining up with the Reliance Foundation Young Champs in 2020. His work in performance and data analysis is vital in the players' progression.

Varun Ghosh

Strength & Conditioning
India 30 Years Old

Varun is in charge of the Strength & Conditioning of the players at Reliance Foundation Young Champs. A highly accomplished strength coach, he has previously worked with the U-19 Indian Mens Cricket Team as their S&C coach. He is a CSCS, and an ASCA Level 1. He holds a BSc. in Sports Science from the University of Waikato, NZ, and an MSc. in Science of Coaching and Performance from Setanta College, Ireland.

Vignesh PG

Head of Video Analysis
India 27 Years Old

Vignesh heads the Video Analysis department at the academy, having previously worked as a scout for ISL club North East United FC. He combines his knowledge and eye for detail to analyse performances and provide video based insights for players and coaches to improve technique and tactics. He holds a BTech from VIT, as well as an AFC C coaching license.

Sahil Shaikh

Video Analyst
India 26 Years Old

Sahil completed his MBA in 2017 and spent the next few years honing his skills in video analytics. He joined the Reliance Foundation Young Champs in 2021, and now serves as the analyst for the U-14 team.

Chaitanya Kulkarni

Video Analyst
India 22 Years Old

Chaitanya graduated college with a Business Administration degree, but decided to combine his lifelong passion for football with his analytical mind and become an analyst. He has been with the Young Champs academy since 2021

Sarthak Pawar

Sports & Performance Psychologist
India 26 Years Old

Sarthak joined the Reliance Foundation Young Champs in 2021 having previously worked with Leeds United as a coach and Doncaster Rovers as a sports psychologist. He holds an MSc. in Sports and Exercise Psychology degree as well as an FA level 2 coaching certification.

Rajesh Chavan

Head of Physiotherapy
India

Rajesh Chavan heads the Physiotherapy department at Reliance Foundation Young Champs and holds a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (B.P.Th) and is a Certified – Heart saver CPR & BLS. 

Shruti Ravi Iyer

Physiotherapist
India 27 Years Old

Shruti Ravi Iyer has been working with the Reliance Foundation Young Champs since 2019 as a Physiotherapist. Away from the pitch, Shruti works tirelessly to help enrich the players by engaging them in extracurricular activities and helping to organise special events for them. Shruti holds a Bachelor's degree in Physiotherapy (B.P.Th) and a Level 1 S&C coaching license from the ASCA.

Nitesh Patel

Physiotherapist
India 31 Years Old

Nitesh joined the Reliance Foundation Young Champs in 2018 after completing his Masters in Sports Physiotherapy from MYAS. He has previously worked as a physiotherapist for the Indian Universities Fencing and Judo teams (Mens and womens). 

Aditya Shanker

Physiotherapist
India

Aditya Shankar joined the Reliance Foundation Young Champs in 2016 as a Physiotherapist. He holds a Masters of Physiotherapy (Sports Medicine) from I.T.S Institute of Health & Allied Sciences

Shifra Varadkar

Nutritionist
India 26 Years Old

Shifra serves as the nutritionist at Reliance Foundation Young Champs, working with athletes in an individual and group setting, ensuring each player has optimum nutrition, be it for training or playing competitively. She has previously worked with Cricket Australia and Queensland Cricket youth teams, and holds a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics Practice. 

Santosh Gowda

Goundsman
India 33 Years Old

Santosh Gowda is the man entrusted with ensuring that our players have high quality surfaces to train and play on all through the year. Working with the Reliance Foundation Young Champs since 2017, Santosh holds a PG Diploma in Turf science and Turf Management

Sandro Salami

Head of Youth
Netherlands 30 Years Old

Sandro Salami is the Head of Youth at the Reliance Foundation Young Champs. With over 10 years of coaching experience at several professional clubs in the Netherlands, he holds a UEFA B license. He recently worked as a youth coach at Dutch clubs NEC and PSV Eindhoven before joining RFYC in 2018

Stephen Charles

Head of Scouting
India 31 Years Old

Stephen Charles is the man tasked with travelling the length and breath of the country to find the next batch of Young Champs. Always on the move, Steve manages a vast network of scouts spread across India and ensures that he finds every diamond encrusted needle in a haystack as diverse as India. 

Arata Izumi

U-18
India 40 Years Old

After a glittering playing career spanning across Asia's biggest leagues and representing India internationally, Arata joined RFYC in 2018. He holds an AFC A License, and currently coaches the U-18s at Young Champs.

Jose Marcio Barreto Ramires

U - 16
Brazil

Jose Barreto is a decorated former professional football player with over 200 appearances for Indian top division clubs Mohun Bagan and the erstwhile Mahindra United Football Club during his footballing career. A graduate of Gremio’s academy, Barreto played professionally in Japan, Malaysia and India. Post his retirement in 2014, Barreto was appointed as the Assistant Coach of Atlético de Kolkata before joining the Young Champs in 2015.

Gumpe Rime

Head Coach - Goalkeeping
India 47 Years Old

Head Goalkeeper Coach Gumpe Rime is a former professional goalkeeper with a career spanning over two decades. Gumpe represented clubs such as Mahindra United, Vasco, Salgaocar and Shillong Lajong. He holds an AFC A and an AFC GK Level 3 License. He's also a certified Coach Educator holding an AFC C & AFC GK Level-1 educator's license. Having previously coached at the Tata Football Academy and Shillong Lajong FC, Gumpe has been with the Reliance Foundation Young Champs since 2017.

Jignesh Antala

Academy Operations Manager/ Goalkeeping Coach
India 31 Years Old

Not only does Jignesh serve as a Goalkeeping coach at RFYC, he is also the go-to guy for all day-to-day administration of the Academy! He joined the Reliance Foundation Young Champs in 2015. He holds and AFC C license as well as an AFC Goalkeeper Level 1.

Sameer Shaikh

U - 16
India 49 Years Old

Holding an AFC A License, and an AIFF D and E instructor's license, Sameer has previously had coaching stints with the Liverpool-DSK Shivajians Academy and the Chennaiyin FC Reserve Team while also serving as their Head of Youth Development, after having represented Army Greens at national levels as a player. He has been working with the Reliance Foundation Young Champs since 2019.

Dipankur Sharma

U - 15
India 31 Years Old

Dipankur is one of the newest coaches at the academy, but has extensive experience working in India, Spain, and Mexico. A trained Lawyer, Dipankur brings a keen eye and attention to detail to all his training sessions!

Don Arnold Danthi

Team Manager/U - 15
India 29 Years Old

Team Manager Arnold is the beating heart of the Young Champs academy. When not running pillar to post ensuring the academy runs smoothly, he serves as the head coach for the U-13s, educating all the newcomers in playing the Young Champs way!

Saksham Kakkar

U - 14
India 31 Years Old

Saksham Kakkar started his journey coaching high school football while still in college himself. Having since coached at Kenkre FC, FC Barcelona Academy India, and Bengaluru FC before joining the academy in 2016, Saksham brings over a decade worth of coaching knowledge and experience to the Young Champs. He holds an MSc. in Sports coaching and an AFC A license accreditation. 

Yashvender Singh

U - 14
India 20 Years Old

A former Young Champs player himself, Yashvender is the youngest member of the coaching staff. He brings a unique insight into the life of a youth player, and is a tremendous source of knowledge and inspiration for the players at a very young age himself.

Padma Rewari

Head of Child Welfare and Education
India 50 Years Old

A mother away from home, our head Counsellor and Mentor/Child Welfare Officer holds a Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy from Indian Global University and MSc. in Psychotherapy and Counselling from IPMS. With over 25 years of field experience as a counsellor, and having worked with the Tata Insitute of Social Sciences. and psychotherapist working exclusively with child related projects. She has been with the academy since its inception in 2015.

Durva Vahia

Head of Performance
India 31 Years Old

A former player and coach herself, Durva's expertise lies in maximising the performances of players (and making excellent presentations). She holds an MSc. in Sports and Health Science, AFC B license, and AFC GK level 1 accreditation.

Aniket Shetty

Performance Analyst
India 25 Years Old

After completing his Masters in Sports Management, Aniket worked with the high performance department at the HN Reliance Foundation Hospital before joining up with the Reliance Foundation Young Champs in 2020. His work in performance and data analysis is vital in the players' progression.

Varun Ghosh

Strength & Conditioning
India 30 Years Old

Varun is in charge of the Strength & Conditioning of the players at Reliance Foundation Young Champs. A highly accomplished strength coach, he has previously worked with the U-19 Indian Mens Cricket Team as their S&C coach. He is a CSCS, and an ASCA Level 1. He holds a BSc. in Sports Science from the University of Waikato, NZ, and an MSc. in Science of Coaching and Performance from Setanta College, Ireland.

Vignesh PG

Head of Video Analysis
India 27 Years Old

Vignesh heads the Video Analysis department at the academy, having previously worked as a scout for ISL club North East United FC. He combines his knowledge and eye for detail to analyse performances and provide video based insights for players and coaches to improve technique and tactics. He holds a BTech from VIT, as well as an AFC C coaching license.

Sahil Shaikh

Video Analyst
India 26 Years Old

Sahil completed his MBA in 2017 and spent the next few years honing his skills in video analytics. He joined the Reliance Foundation Young Champs in 2021, and now serves as the analyst for the U-14 team.

Chaitanya Kulkarni

Video Analyst
India 22 Years Old

Chaitanya graduated college with a Business Administration degree, but decided to combine his lifelong passion for football with his analytical mind and become an analyst. He has been with the Young Champs academy since 2021

Sarthak Pawar

Sports & Performance Psychologist
India 26 Years Old

Sarthak joined the Reliance Foundation Young Champs in 2021 having previously worked with Leeds United as a coach and Doncaster Rovers as a sports psychologist. He holds an MSc. in Sports and Exercise Psychology degree as well as an FA level 2 coaching certification.

Rajesh Chavan

Head of Physiotherapy
India

Rajesh Chavan heads the Physiotherapy department at Reliance Foundation Young Champs and holds a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (B.P.Th) and is a Certified – Heart saver CPR & BLS. 

Shruti Ravi Iyer

Physiotherapist
India 27 Years Old

Shruti Ravi Iyer has been working with the Reliance Foundation Young Champs since 2019 as a Physiotherapist. Away from the pitch, Shruti works tirelessly to help enrich the players by engaging them in extracurricular activities and helping to organise special events for them. Shruti holds a Bachelor's degree in Physiotherapy (B.P.Th) and a Level 1 S&C coaching license from the ASCA.

Nitesh Patel

Physiotherapist
India 31 Years Old

Nitesh joined the Reliance Foundation Young Champs in 2018 after completing his Masters in Sports Physiotherapy from MYAS. He has previously worked as a physiotherapist for the Indian Universities Fencing and Judo teams (Mens and womens). 

Aditya Shanker

Physiotherapist
India

Aditya Shankar joined the Reliance Foundation Young Champs in 2016 as a Physiotherapist. He holds a Masters of Physiotherapy (Sports Medicine) from I.T.S Institute of Health & Allied Sciences

Shifra Varadkar

Nutritionist
India 26 Years Old

Shifra serves as the nutritionist at Reliance Foundation Young Champs, working with athletes in an individual and group setting, ensuring each player has optimum nutrition, be it for training or playing competitively. She has previously worked with Cricket Australia and Queensland Cricket youth teams, and holds a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics Practice. 

Santosh Gowda

Goundsman
India 33 Years Old

Santosh Gowda is the man entrusted with ensuring that our players have high quality surfaces to train and play on all through the year. Working with the Reliance Foundation Young Champs since 2017, Santosh holds a PG Diploma in Turf science and Turf Management