In a first-of-its-kind initiative in India, U Dream Football backed by Ronnie Screwvala, will take 15 boys aged below 14 years to leading Bundesliga club, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, for a 6-year training program on full scholarships. The boys were chosen after U Dream Football coaches scoured the length and breadth of the nation over a year during which they covered over 1,000 schools spread across 45 cities.
For these 15 boys, it will be a chance of a lifetime as they get unparalleled access to world-class expertise, facilities and experiences that most other Indian kids can only dream of. Moreover, the children will be part of a youth system that successfully developed Germany’s World Cup-winning generation of 2014 while being exposed to a methodology that is tried and tested.
To ensure that the boys have an Indian point of contact, they will be accompanied by former India captain, Mahesh Gawli and coach, John Kenneth Raj. Besides pursuing their footballing careers, every child will get a CBSE-level education where they come back to India once a year for exams. To facilitate their studies while in Germany, three CBSE-certified instructors will monitor their academic progress on a daily basis. Moreover, all 15 boys will be recruited at U Dream Haryana Football Club, formed in collaboration with the Haryana Olympic Association and Haryana Football Association, after completing the program and returning to India.
“Unlike other football programs, the long term association allows students to truly imbibe the spirit of the game and also understand an international level of professionalism that accompanies being a professional footballer. We believe that this program will truly allow us to be catalysts of change at the grassroot level of the sport,” said Supratik Sen, CEO, U Sports as he introduced the boys.
In addition to this flagship Germany Scholarship initiative, U Dream Football aims to set up 10 U Dream Excellence Centres across India. These centres of excellence will be staffed with coaches from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and the Bundesliga so that children access to best-in-class football training which in turn will help to build a stronger base of candidates for the next intake of scholars. Importantly, these centres will also provide much-needed coach education programs.
Speaking about the program, Ronnie Screwvala, Founder U Sports, said “Under the U Dream Football banner, we hope to enhance the country’s youth development system in the sport. These 15 boys on their return and post the rigorous and scientific training under the watchful guidance of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s certified coaches, will be a great contribution to the sport in the country. As we gear up to host the Under-17 FIFA World Cup, we know that it is programs such as these that will be a huge benefit to the sporting ecosystem.”
At Grassroots Football India (GFI), we are delighted to see such a comprehensive grassroots program come to life and we hope, as always, that there will be many more such initiatives taken across the country. Here’s wishing each and every one of the boys the greatest success!
To follow the boys’ progress in Germany, keep checking U Dream Football’s Facebook page.
The selected boys are: Manish Malyadri Siddha (Pune), Akash Mishra (Lucknow), Pranav Kanse, Aniket Varekar (Kolhapur), Pradeep Mannewar (Udaipur), Delton Colaco, Kimran Fernandes, Wellyster Mendes (Goa), Shivam Maan (New Delhi), Ayush Adhikari (Noida), Ankit Bhuyan (Bhubaneshwar), Ishant Rana, Kumar Rathod, Raul Lewis (Mumbai), Armaan Kalra (Gurgaon)