Nicolai Adam’s India Colts are to play against Maharashtra’s Under-15 on Monday in what will be the first chance for football aficionados to catch a glimpse of the team which shall represent India at the 2017 World Cup.
Not only would this be an important practice game for the India juniors, Adam would also scout for talent from the opposition and if the player impresses and passes the medical tests, he would be drafted straight into the national set-up.
Abhishek Yadav, who set-up the scouting network in India for the All India Football Federation (AIFF) explains the idea behind arranging this exhibition game.
“This will give another opportunity for players to impress and get into the national team. India will play in the World Cup in less than two years from now and it is important to select the best players from every state. We have to give a chance to every player who is born in the year 2000. The idea is to create opportunities and winning or losing these practice games isn’t a priority,” Abhishek informed Goal.
He added that this is also an occasion for fans in Mumbai to see the progress made by the Under-17 side who have had impressive tours to Germany and Spain respectively. In Germany, they won eight matches of the 14 played against top oppositions like Ingolstadt, FSV Frankfurt and others. They also registered wins over Elche and Hercules in Spain.
“This will be the first time fans in the country would get a chance to watch the Under-17 team. So far you must have only heard about their feats but here is a chance to see them in action. This is your team, it’s time to see how they play and support them as well. These matches with state junior team will be competitive,” he mentioned.
The former Mahindra United striker explained that he had to design the scouting programme wherein every state association had a designated scout who shortlisted players for Adam to come and pick. The yardstick for choosing players was as per the need and instructions of the coach.
“In the first part of scouting, the coach travelled to different part of the country and picked several players. Scouting network has surely contributed to the India Under-17 team. I always believe India doesn’t lack in talent. What needs to be done is to unearth and thereby mould them under an experienced coach.
“The captain of the Under-17 team, Amarjit Singh is also a product of our scouting. There has been a lot of hard work involved but in the end the whole process has been a success. Just imagine within a period of three-to-four months, a player gets a chance to represent the country in the World Cup,” he elucidated.
Abhishek hoped that at the end of playing four-to-five matches against state teams; they could get at least a couple of players for the national team.
“Scouting process is to create hope that every kid can dream and make it a reality. The state associations too are benefitted as if a player is picked from their region, it will be a massive boost for them. Even if you haven’t played before for any club or academy, the scouting process can elevate a player straight into the national set-up if he has the talent and fits the right age profile,” he said.
Maharashtra has got a lot of representation in the India Under-17 squad and Abhishek thanked the efforts made by Western India Football Association (WIFA).
“We have several players from Maharashtra in the Under-17 side such as Aniket Jadhav, Gaston Da Silva and Saurabh Meher. Only last month, Adam picked a left back from Pune FC’s academy and a goalkeeper from Mumbai FC’s junior team. The scouting process has done well and we hope to find more players through this system,” concluded Abhishek.