Bharati group to fund under-16 football team

July 10th, 2008 - 5:02 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) The under-16 football team, which has qualified for the finals of the Asian Championships, received a much needed boost with Bharati Enterprises’ announcing its plans to fund the team’s development programme. Bharati Thursday signed an agreement with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to support the under-16 team for a period of one year and will help the team prepare for the Asian Championships to be held in Uzbekistan in October.

“The under-16 team is a promising lot and has performed exceptionally well at the international level. With the right support and exposure they can compete at the highest level and make the country proud. We are very happy with the support from Bharti and this will provide a lot of encouragement to the team,” said AIFF president Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi.

Bharti already has an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the AIFF to build a comprehensive National Football Development Program (NFDP). But their first grand plan of making a world class football academy in Goa have faced stumbling block due to political rivalry in the western state.

But Bharati’s plans to support the under-16 teams comes as a good news for Indian football. This is the first time ever that an India youth football team is getting corporate funding.

“Developing a strong youth programme is one of the top priorities of our partnership with AIFF to create a powerful football culture in India. We hope that this team’s achievements at the international level will be a major catalyst in further promoting football amongst the youth of India,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Group CEO, Bharti Enterprises.

The under-16 team is currently in West Virginia, US where it is playing practice matches and will also travel to Europe in the coming months. If the team reaches the semi finals of Asian Championships, they will automatically qualify for the under-17 World Cup in 2009.

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