Can India produce other football greats like Bhaichung Bhutia or Sunil Chhetri? Well, a couple of years ago, the answer to this would have been a no! But now there are possibilities.
The European giants have now turned their heads towards Indian football as its fan base has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years, thanks to the Indian Super League and the I-League.
Recently, a few children from Chennai were selected in a drive for talent hunt conducted by La Liga (Spanish football League) giant Valencia. Following the footsteps of Valencia, the second biggest German football club Borussia Dortmund has collaborated with World1 Sports to strengthen the football culture in the country. The collaboration aims at providing necessary coaching facilities to children from the age of six.
There will be two UEFA B licenced coaches to spread the football culture in the country as World1 Sports and Dortmund are looking forward to churn out more young talent. Also, the World1 Sports is conducting leagues in U-6, U-8, U-10 and U-12 categories in the northeastern states of Manipur and Mizoram.
Besides, there would be a similar structure in Chennai, the World1 Sports and Dortmund officials told the media while announcing their collaboration on Tuesday (September 17). Both World1 Sports and Dortmund will be working with the Vellammal Education Group and train the children to develop a sporting culture right from the grassroots level.
“We believe India has a strong passion for football and Dortmund is attracted by the craze for the sport in India. We are pleased to be partnering with World1 Sports and will be working towards the same goal of developing the sport from the grassroot level in India,” said Suresh Letchmanan, Managing Director (Asia-Pacific), Borussia Dortmund.
Responding to queries about the possibilities of Indian footballers making it to the European clubs, Dortmund’s India representative Max-Jannis Foerster said, “We are here to take Indian footballers to Europe and help them to make it big there. But, the pathway is a little longer as it would take five-eight years approximately.”
“So, we have decided to develop the coaching staff first and then take it further with other plans. Indians have a tremendous craze for the sport and we are here to promote our club in Asia as well,” added Foerster.
Lack of playing grounds in Chennai is one of the biggest issues that ails the sporting culture at infrastructure level. Even the Chennai Football League teams practice muddy grounds.
Addressing this issue, Vikram Rajkumar, Chief Operating Officer, World1 Sports, said, “Infrastructure development from this level is tough and the local authorities should come up with enhancement programs. The current infrastructure conditions are sufficient for the sub-junior level but it needs to be developed further.”