Chhetri-backed initiative commences football talent spotting

To identify the talent pool and whittle it down to a manageable number, Ricardo D Sousa, technical director of Sporting Clube de Portugal, has flown down from his country and will be assisted by various Indian coaches.

Dream Chasers, the football talent hunt started with the backing of India captain Sunil Chhetri in February, has taken its first step towards achieving its initial goal of picking 15 talented under-13 players to undergo a five-year residential schooling tutored by the coaches from Sporting Clube de Portugal.

“The response in Mumbai over the last few days has been very good. Three hundred children came yesterday and 150-odd will be watched today,” said Ameya Kochrekar, an ex-army officer who is also the co-founder and CEO of ’Pro Force’, which has initiated the process of talent hunting and honing the skills of handpicked children for next five years.

To identify the talent pool and whittle it down to a manageable number, Ricardo D Sousa, technical director of Sporting Clube de Portugal, has flown down from his country and will be assisted by various Indian coaches.

Giving his first impression on the football skills he had seen so far at a school in the western suburb of Kandivli, Sousa told reporters today, “I am pleasantly surprised by the skills on display.”

It’s a lengthy process and is expected to get over by the end of the year, according to Ameya, before the handpicked 15 boys would be up and ready for the next academic year at Kolhapur’s Cyrus Poonawalla International School to combine ten-month football training with academics.

They will also be sent to the Portugal academy of the club for a fortnight every year.

The selection is going to be a four-stage process on the lines of what’s done back in Portugal in the club’s academy in Lisbon and split into skills with only the ball, ball and goal, ball skills against opponents and ball skills with complexities thrown in for good measure.

The talent hunt is to cover ten cities across the country with the likelihood of it happening in the North Eastern state of Mizoram too after getting a number of queries from that region, said Ameya.

Sousa said he will try to follow “the same guidelines as is the case in Portugal” during the process.

Ameya said the enthusiasm shown by the parents has been heartening. “Ninety per cent of the parents with whom we have interacted feel professional football can be taken up as a career,” he claimed.

After the fifteen children are identified to make up the first batch of residential trainees, they will be sent for a week-long (orientation) stay in Portugal.

As far as Sousa is concerned he is to be present to oversee the process for one month before returning home.

“He will return for another four-month stint,” he added.

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.

  Dugout videos