Girish Mathrubootham, founder and CEO of software development company Freshworks, has implemented an idea that came to him in 2016 and invested around Rs 100 billion in his personal capacity in Madras FC, a football academy he founded in 2018.
The money invested by FC Madras Charitable Trust also includes contributions of less than Rs 1 crore from some friends of Mathrubootham, which have been used to build a soccer facility in Mahabalipuram, some 60km from Chennai.
“We have also established five OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) for this academy,” said Mathrubootham. “We are focused on improving player skills and getting the kids international exposure, implementing a holistic program, making it technically possible and figuring out how to build sustainability in operations and invest in a safe environment.”
Mathrubootham co-founded Freshworks with Shanmugam Krishnasamy, who recently left the company. He is also a founding member of SaaSBOOMi, India’s premier community for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) founders, and founded venture capital fund Together Fund in 2021 – making it his fourth-largest initiative.
Initial estimates are that the facility would cost approximately $1.5 million per year to operate. In addition to raising funds for the foundation, the team would also conduct summer camps and weekend programs, and would allow companies to hold their board meetings and team outings at the facility to generate additional income.
Spread over 23 acres, the facility is a residential campus that coaches children under 13 and -15 in soccer while also teaching “life skills” and conducting academic courses as part of the National Institute of Open Schooling curriculum.
While the current facility can accommodate 130 athletes, Madras FC has selected 50 children from across the country as part of its first batch. They used nationwide scouting teams to identify the top soccer players in the U13 and U15 categories, from which the top 100 were invited to a seven-day camp in Chennai. 50 were selected for their physical and mental abilities.
FC Madras plans to accept children up to 18 years old in the near future. Mathrubootham said the team did extensive research into football facilities and international standards and protocols to develop the facility’s design, curriculum and overall program.
The trust has signed Abhishek Yadav, former Deputy General Secretary of All India Football Federation and former captain of India National Football Team as CEO of Madras FC; Venkatesh Prasad, former captain of India national football team, as new Technical Director of Football; and dr CN Narayana as Director of Education and Life Skills.
Madras FC have also brought on board Dhananjai CKM, who is currently leading the data and performance vertical of Mumbai Indians, an Indian Premier League team, as Director of Sports and Governance.