The All India Football Federation (AIFF) received the first tips from Brazil’s 1970 World Cup-winning captain Carlos Alberto Torres when it set out the 'road map' to prepare for the under-17 World Cup in 2017, with Coca-Cola.
Carlos Alberto urged the Indian federation to provide young trainees the stage to realise their passion and commitment that would prepare them to face the best teams in the world.
'Practice, practice and practice. You will have to work hard every day with the junior players if you want them to become stars of future,' Carlos Alberto told the AIFF General Secretary, Kushal Das.
Das announced a strategic alliance with Coca-Cola India to build a competitive Indian team for the under-17 World Cup. 'The stars of today like (Lionel) Messi and Neymar have put endless hours of practice in the academies of the clubs like Barcelona and Santos to become what they are today,' said Alberto, giving the examples to the AIFF officials and trainees present at the programme.
Alberto called up two under-16 National camp trainees, Jitendra Singh and Abhijit Sarkar, on stage to explain his feelings. They will join Amit Tudu, Subrata Das and Prasenjit Chakraborty to form a five-member team selected by AIFF to participate in the ‘Coke coaching and conditioning camp’ in Brazil next May. The strategic partners are yet to ascertain the exact details of the announced 'road map', though the AIIF picked up the under-15 Coca-Cola Cup (formerly the Mir Iqbal Hussain Trophy) as one of the platforms to harvest talent.
'The exact details of the ‘road map’ will be worked out in due course but we are looking at having a comprehensive youth development programme and get everyone involved with Indian football, including the clubs, in the project,' said Das when asked about AIFF’s plans.
Getting the soft-drinks major as the partner four years ago, the AIFF transformed the sub-junior tournament into grassroots talent hunt. According to Das, the programme, which did not yield much reward so far, will now be taken forward more vigorously to create a talent pool for the u-17 World Cup.