The premier football school of the country Tata Football Academy (TFA) is looking get in the expansion mode after announcing a tie-up with the La Liga giant Atletico Madrid. This will come as good news for the new generation of aspiring stars as the Academy looks to evolve a new standard of youth development in a curriculum to be developed by its Spanish partner.

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“Now it is for us to move to the next stage and for that, we are looking for support from an established academy from Europe and that is the reason why we tied up with the Spanish giant Atletico de Madrid. We will have a full-time coach and his support team from Spain that will supervise the curriculum of TFA and the whole youth development system put in place by us,” said Mukul Choudhari, the CEO of Jamshedpur FC and chief of sports excellence centres of Tata Steel. 

“Atletico Madrid, which is one of the best academies in the world, will offer technical and administrative inputs. We are looking to take the best practices from them. That may also mean enhancing the present infrastructure if we feel that is needed,” he said. This will also see a selection of TFA trainees being absorbed to the Atletico Madrid academy according to Choudhari.

The academy here stands tall for its seminal contribution to Indian football over the past three decades have seen more than 200 players making it to the National side over time. “Most of the academies being instituted by the ISL clubs have reached out to us and have taken inspiration and advice from us,” Choudhari said. 

So, now where does football’s youth development system stand in the country? “We are also putting a lot of thrust on coach education so that we do not have to import coaches in future. We have a long road to travel if we like to see the kind of development work happening in the clubs around Europe. We have to do a lot of catching up as the youth development system went totally missing in Indian football even though it has been played in the country for over a century,” Choudhari said.

The TFA is now looking to make the most of the new sports ethos evolving in the country. “When you talk about the football culture there is a lot of difference between a boy in Brazil, Argentina or in Europe compared to what you see in India. In India, you see almost all the kids getting sucked into education, whereas in the places mentioned above, the kids gain proficiency quite early in age. Now, for the last five-six years we are seeing a change in the spectrum where a lot of people in India are looking outside the usual professions, which includes making a career in sports,” Choudhari said.