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The state association's shady 'lucky draw' hurts several clubs with Pune FC among one of them...

The Pune FC Under-15 squad this year will not figure in the annually conducted Manchester United Premier Cup (MUPC). Reason: lucky draw by Western India Football Association’s (WIFA).

In a shocking development, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the sponsors of the tournament – leading sports apparel manufacturer Nike decided to restrict the tournament to one club per state.

In the past editions of this one-of-a-kind tournament, all I-League clubs received invitations in lieu of the tournament, national body and sponsors objective of promoting grass root talent (particularly Under-15s) of I-League clubs.

However the AIFF did inform the state associations of the same in the first week of April something which the latter failed to communicate to the clubs.

Head Operations, Chirag Tanna said, “The change was not informed to clubs. At least we (Pune FC) did not receive any intimation and came to know about the change late Thursday evening. It's very disappointing on the part of the National body.”

This year’s MUPC will be held at Jamshedpur in the last week of April, 2012.

As if changing the format is not enough, the selection process for Maharashtra by the state body Western India Football Association (WIFA) was conducted by a lucky draw of which none of the clubs were aware of! Premier International Football Academy (PIFA), Mumbai got lucky and will represent the state as per the ‘one-club-per-state’ format.

Pune FC is a regular in the tournament since four years and exclusively used the opportunity to promote Pune city player young talent.

Tanna added, “The tournament provided players their first touch of professionalism. Moreover, it attracted a lot many to the game with the hope of performing and showcasing talent on a national-level platform early.”

This year as well Pune FC were practicing in earnest since July 2011 and looking forward to the tournament.

However, for now, the dream of player, parent and clubs stand annulled. 

Explains Chirag, “I can only imagine how disappointed the players feel. They have been training regularly since July 2011 and these whimsical decisions taken will only hurt the popularity of the sport on the whole.”


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