UK reality show to seach for football talent in India

January 10th, 2009 - 5:47 pm ICT by ANI  

Mumbai, Jan.10 (ANI): A new reality television series will begin scouting for footballing talent in India.
According to a report in the Times, as far as the promotion of the sport is concerned, India is being seen as the last great frontier.
The paper says that the winners of the Soccer Prince competition will be offered apprenticeships with English teams likely to include Liverpool, the current leaders of the Barclays Premier League.
The venture is based on a similar programme aired in China last year, which attracted more than 30,000 14 to 19-year-old contestants, the final episode of which was watched by 130 million viewers.
Three Chinese players were selected and offered year-long contracts with English Premier League clubs Everton, Bolton Wanderers and Nottingham Forest. Liverpool are understood to be in talks with the shows creators, Kickworldwide, to offer an Indian player a similar opportunity.
Kickworldwide says it hopes that the competition will kick-start a passion for football in India, a nation besotted with cricket, by encouraging not only players but also coaches, referees and groundsmen.
The ultimate dream must be that India reaches the 2018 World Cup, the paper quoted Mary Gopsill, the companys chief executive, as saying.
You cant just plunge into a market like this to make a quick buck. You will fail if you dont invest for the long term, she added.
In India, the game already has a useful foothold. More than 60 million Indian viewers tuned in to the Premier League through satellite and cable television last season and 20 million people are estimated to play regularly.
India last entered the World Cup in 1950. The Indian football team qualified by default, because all of its opponents pulled out. But the organisers ruled that all players had to wear football boots. Several of the Indian team, who played barefoot, refused and the team withdrew. It has not come close since. (ANI)

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