Tata Trusts U Dream Football today announced a technical tie-up with Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund by which 48 talented Indian children, mostly from the Northeast, are already getting football training under the clubs youth coaches in Bitburg, Germany.
Beginning January 2017 the first batch of trainees, 35 of them from the Northeastern states of Mizoram (17), Manipur (15), Meghalaya (2) and Assam (1) and the rest from other parts of the country, are to spend ten months a year over six years in schooling and football training in Germany.
“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 ten later.”
The boys are in the age group of 12-14 years and the aim of the programme is is to ensure that all enrolled players play professional football by placing them in clubs across Europe, the Americas and Asia, including India.
Borussia Dortmund Evonik Soccer School manager Christian Diercks at the press conference said, “As an intense football capital, we aspire children to become better footballers & receive good education. This is what we would like to also give the kids of the Tata Trusts U Dream Football.”
Former India captain Baichung Bhutia said India needed to do a lot more grassroots programs in football while adding “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 program 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 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.
— U Dream Football (@UDreamFootball) 11. Mai 2017
(Report courtesy: PTI / Photo courtesy: Tata Trusts U Dream Football)