Juan Marcos Troia (Argentina) established International Sports Academy Trust (ISAT) in 2007. By making the conflict ravaged land of Kashmir their home, they bridged significant linguistic, cultural and religious distances. Marcos is a FIFA accredited football coach and ISAT ran a training academy, a club, nodal training centres and several exchange programs for talented players from all over Kashmir to train in the best intentional clubs and academies, such as Santos in Brazil.
Priscilla Troia (Brazil) is not only mother and Spanish-teacher to her three-daughters, but also to her extended family - the boys of ISAT football team, of which, along with husband Marcos, she is strategic partner. The players are in-and-out of their warm, generous home where there’s always an endless supply of food-and-drink. She is an invaluable part of the ISAT family and in the lives of the players. And their three daughters look upon the Kashmiri boys as elder-brothers.
Marco and Priscilla’s dream is to find, train and represent world-class players from Kashmir. Marco feels that Kashmiris have the physical, mental strength and innate soccer skills required to compete at an international level for Football, not cricket, is the favoured sport in Kashmir. What Kashmir lacks is the training and access. In a short period of five years, Marcos and Priscilla, battling odds and inexplicable opposition, expanded their academy to five-remote locations across the Valley. In a state like Kashmir where tension is high and youth is squandered they provided not just training and skills, but an outlet, direction and a possible vocation for their most talented players.
Unfortunately, just two years after Inshallah, football was released, in 2012, after repeated threats to their lives, vandalism of their home, accusations of forced conversions (the Troias are Catholics) they were forced to abandon nearly five-thousand youth who were training and playing under ISAT and leave Kashmir. Their success, the envy of politically connected, rival associations and government apathy may account for the hostility and the lack of recourse, that finally pushed them out. Perhaps, in a land where so much blood has been split on account of sovereignty, every act by an outsider, no matter how noble, is perceived as an attack on identity.
They have now migrated to Afghanistan, their dream of producing world-class players undiminished.