Tata Trusts U Dream Football today announced a technical tie-up with top German club Borussia Dortmund by which 48 talented Indian children are already getting training under the club’s youth coaches. Under the partnership, the Indian children, most of them from the north east, are undergoing football training in Bitburg, Germany.
Beginning January this year the first batch of trainees, 35 of them from the north eastern states of Mizoram (17), Manipur (15), Meghalaya (2) and Assam (1) and the rest from other parts of the country, are to spend 10 months a year over six years in schooling and football training in Germany, it was announced at a media conference today.
“The depth of training in Germany is second to none. The biggest challenge for us was to convince parents that their children can have an alternative career in sports. We are aiming to increase the number to 200 with the help of the German Consulate,” said founder Ronnie Screwvala of U Dream, which got into a partnership with the 125-year-old Tata Trusts last year.
Asked what was the pathway laid out for the young football talent after the end of six years, Screwvala said “Its a 16-year relationship, six now and 10 later.”
“Tata Trusts has a legacy of supporting various sports events and activities since its existence in 1892,” said R Venkataramanan, Managing Trustee, Tata Trusts.
“Tata Trusts is privileged to collaborate with U Dream Football and Borussia Dortmund in this developmental endeavour. Initiatives such as these make us proud and encourage us to contribute every day,” he added.
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The boys are in the age group of 12-14 years and the aim of the programme is to ensure that all those enrolled play professional football by placing them in clubs across Europe, the Americas and Asia, including India.
Former India captain Bhainchung Bhutia said India needed to do a lot more grassroots programme in football and added “definitely there has been improvement over the last three years” in this respect.
“The FIFA Under-17 World Cup (to be hosted by India this October), is a start, but we need to make more kids play football for more talent to come up,” he said at a panel discussion.
As per the programme currently charted, each week the trainees play games against top-ranked youth sides in the region as well as those in Belgium and Luxembourg and so far the Indian team has won 15 out of 20 games and lost three.
“We have been approached by the All India Football Federation to allow them to include 6-7 players as probables in the Indian World Cup Under-17 squad, but we have asked for a trial game between them (the current India probables) and us,” said one of the persons connected with the programme.