The Overseas Scouting project which was launched as a joint venture between the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and Sports Authority of India (SAI) has been a huge hit for scouting Indian talents outside of the Nation as it has beefed up the ranks of the Indian U-17 World Cup squad through two new recruitments.
In an exclusive interview with AIFF’s Director of Scouting, Chief Operating Officer of the Indian U-17 World Cup Squad Abhishek Yadav, the former Indian Captain talks at length about the two NRIs who are now part of the U-17 Team, the passion among NRIs, the future plans and much more.
How has the Indian U-17 World Cup Team benefited from the Overseas Scouting Project?
One US national and one Canadian national have joined the Indian U-17 World Cup Squad’s camp. Namit Deshpande, who lives and studies in the US, is a good player & will strengthen the squad. Namit had a valid Indian Passport and he is eligible to play while the Canadian national, Sunny Dhaliwal, has surrended his Canadian passport now and acquired an Indian passport.
It should be known that getting these boys here has been a joint effort between the respective parents, the AIFF and SAI & the concerned ministry. The families have taken a significant step, primarily driven by the urge to serve the country through football. They have set an example for dozens of others to follow.
Will the interest to serve the Country through sports increase for NRIs?
Gauging from the interest shown by a few other parents of talented footballers from other age-groups living overseas, I foresee the possibility of Namit & Sunny turning into some sort of pioneers for the Indian-community overseas. It excites me because I imagine this process is not just for football. Other sport disciplines can also benefit from eligible talent, which is developing across the globe but aspires to wear India colours.
How did the families of the two boys react?
There is a lot of pride out there, a lot of emotion, a lot of yearning to give something back to their roots. It is palpable. It will increase competition and raise the performance of Indian sport. It will also serve to strengthen the bond between the Indian-community living overseas and in India.
What next for the Overseas Scouting Portal?
I wish to expand overseas scouting itself to include age-groups other than U-17, for boys and for girls. A calendar will be set for physical scouting activities. Rules regarding acquisition of Indian passport will be published with due permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
When did you come across this idea?
Around September last year (2016) I came across this idea and the idea was to reach out and provide opportunity to every Indian across the globe who qualifies to contibute something to Indian Football.
How did the Overseas Scouting Portal help in scouting?
The portal gives a face to the Overseas Scouting Project. It helps in establishing credibility while providing information about the project; it gives players direct access to the scouting team while capturing data.
How does the Overseas Scouting Portal help the Indian National Teams?
Overseas Players bring diversity into the team. They have a different perspective; they have grown up playing against different nationalities, used to a different climate. These and several other nuanced factors have the potential to bolster the confidence of the team & gives the head coach additional options.
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