Vidhya Sivaramakrishnan ( )
Acting on an idea that came to him in 2016, software development company Freshworks’ Founder and CEO Girish Mathrubootham has invested around Rs 100 crore in his personal capacity in FC Madras, a football academy he set up in 2018.
The money invested through FC Madras Charitable Trust also includes contributions of less than Rs 1 crore from some of Mathrubootham’s friends, which has been utilised to build a football facility at Mahabalipuram, about 60 km away from Chennai.
“We have set five OKRs (objectives and key results) for this academy as well,” said Mathrubootham. “We are focusing on improving player capability and getting international exposure for the kids, implementing a holistic programme, tech-enabling it, figuring out how to build sustainability in the operations and investing in a safe and secure environment.”
Mathrubootham co-founded Freshworks with Shanmugam Krishnasamy, who recently left the company. He is also the founding member of SaaSBOOMi, India’s first community for software-as-a-service (SaaS) founders, and also established venture capital fund Together Fund in 2021—making it his fourth-largest initiative.
Initial estimates suggest that it would take around $1.5 million per year to run the facility. Besides seeking donations for the trust, the team would also conduct summer camps and weekend programmes, while allowing corporates to conduct their board meetings and team outings at the facility to bring in additional revenue.
Spread over an area of 23 acres, the facility is a residential campus for training children under-13 and -15 in football while also imparting “life skills” and conducting academic courses under the National Institute of Open Schooling curriculum.
While the current facility can accommodate 130 athletes, FC Madras has chosen 50 children from across the country as part of its first batch. They employed nationwide scouting teams to identify the best football players in the U13 and U15 categories, of which the top 100 were invited to Chennai for a seven-day camp. Based on their physical and mental abilities, 50 were selected.
FC Madras has plans to include children up to 18 years in the near future. Mathrubootham said that the team had done extensive research on football facilities and international standards and protocols to come up with the design of the facility, curriculum, and the entire programme.
The trust has roped in Abhishek Yadav, former Deputy General Secretary of the All India Football Federation and the former captain of the Indian national football team to be the CEO of FC Madras; Venkatesh Prasad, a former Captain of the Indian national football team, as the new Technical Director of Football; and Dr CN Narayana as the Director of Education and Life Skills.
FC Madras has also onboarded Dhananjai CKM, who is currently heading the data and performance vertical of Mumbai Indians, an Indian Premier League team, as Director of Sports and Governance.