Indian kids to get soccer training from Arsenal coaches

March 3rd, 2008 - 12:18 am ICT by admin  

Kozhikode (Kerala), March 2 (IANS) A few months from now, children from this city may land at a soccer academy run by English Premier League club Arsenal. This will become possible under a nation-wide initiative by Tata Tea and Arsenal Club, named Tata Tea Arsenal Sports Star, a two-day hunt for soccer talents.

“The selections are made region-wise. We have already concluded selections at Goa and Bangalore. After Kozhikode, the selections will be at Chandigarh, Delhi, Bhubaneshwar, Mumbai and Kolkata,” said Jamshid Nassiri, veteran footballer who is also the technical director for the program. Former Indian player Premnath Philip too is helping Nassiri in the selections.

The selection is for children below 15 years and is made from school teams.

“There is good response from the schools here - 49 teams participated in the screening Saturday,” said Nassiri.

The schools played each other in matches of 14 minutes. A team is allowed only seven members.

“The two finalists from here will take part in the national finals in Kolkata, 18 teams will be there in Kolkata,” said Nassiri.

After the finals, 30 children will be selected for two-weeks training at Kolkata under a coach from Arsenal.

“Fifteen of them will be taken to England. They will get two-week training in England and will also get the opportunity to play in the Arsenal International Soccer Festival,” said Nassiri.

According to A.M. Najeeb, Kozhikode Distirct Football Association: “The selectors will finally take three outstanding players from this region for the coaching camp at Kolkata.”

After their return from England, children and their parents can decide whether to pursue a career in soccer.

“If they like, I can recommend them for admission to Tata Football Academy at Jameshedpur or Chandigarh Football Academy or Goa Football Academy,” said Nassiri.

Nassiri is of the opinion that soccer talent is abundant in Kozhikode region. “Technically they are good, but their height is a disadvantage,” he said.

Nassiri lamented that in India there is no system in place to identify and train children at a tender age. There is no infrastructure in place for promoting football.

“In Europe, football clubs got nurseries for nurturing talent. Here, even big clubs have no such facilities,” said Nassiri, an Iranian who have played for prominent clubs in India.

“Tournaments for children in the country are not organized in a proper manner. Many of the participants fudge their age. There are no stringent rules to stop these kinds of practices. Absence of people with proper knowledge of soccer at the helm organizations is also a cause for the decline of the game in the country,” he added.

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