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The club’s plans fall in line with the country’s hosting of the U-17 World Cup in 2017, three zones identified to bolster the development of talent...

In a move that is destined to signal the impetuous of youth development, especially keeping in mind the U-17 World Cup India will host in 2017, East Bengal FC have launched talent development programmes aimed at harnessing youth in the tea gardens of India. To facilitate their aim, the club have tied up with the Tea Board of India for the propagation of the programme.

The club, who have vowed to provide technical support, have identified three key zones from where the  talent can be tapped. They are Tejpur in Assam, Jalgaipuri in North Bengal and Kannur in Kerala. The move no doubt marks the intent with which the club aims to develop talent in time for India’s showing at the U-17 World Cup in 2017, a tournament to which they are the hosts.

An initial intake of 120 boys will see the list trimmed to 64 boys after a round of preliminary training. The list will further be bobbed to just 16 boys.

The training camp will introduce boys from four zones of each of the selected areas. Initially, only boys around 16 years of age will be taken in but the club plan to regulate the intake of boys to around 13 from the second year of the programme's initiation. The official inauguration of the Tejpur camp is scheduled for Saturday, December 28th.

“This is a great opportunity for tea garden workers. We want to see a few of them in the Under-17 Cup team,” elucidated a Tea Board official, to The Telegraph.

Furthermore after successful development of teams from all three zones, the city of Kolkata will play host to a national tournament featuring these teams. The 48 boys representing their respective zones will be awarded an annual scholarship.

“We will hold a tournament among teams from these areas, the winners of which will play in a Tea Board-sponsored national level tournament,” explained East Bengal general secretary, Kalyan Majumdar, highlighting the same to the Times of India.

Shantanu Guha Thakurata, former Pailan Arrows assistant coach and a ‘B’ coaching licence holder is expected to take the reins at the Tejpur camp while Kabi Sarkar and Uttam Chakraborty will be handed the responsibility of Jalpaiguri.

The Tea Board of India is said to have undertaken the responsibility of accommodation while the boys will be given a stipend.

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