Namit Deshpande has been brought into the Indian U-17 team ahead of the FIFA U-17 World Cup to be held in India later this year.
Deshpande, a US-based NRI, is the first success story of the overseas scouting portal set up by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the All India Football Federation (AIFF). The portal has a provision for Indian-origin youngsters living overseas to upload their videos that are then scrutinised by the scouts.
A centre-back by trade, Deshpande first was given a trial in Brazil when the team was helmed by Nicolai Adam, but despite impressing him, he wasn't brought on board as the German was sacked shortly. Adam was replaced by Luis Norton de Matos and Namit was made to appear for a four-day trial in Goa, where he drew plaudits from the Portuguese.
A huge credit for the overseas scouting portal being set up goes to the Chief Operating Officer of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, India team, Abhishek Yadav. It was the former India captain's brainchild that was nurtured well by support to the AIFF from the open-minded SAI and the Sports Ministry of India, who ignored ongoing practices and precedents set to do what is best for the team. Should Namit don the blue jersey during the World Cup, he would become the first NRI to represent the Indian national team in any age-group.
In fact, this initiative, boosted by the willingness of the SAI Director General Injeti Srinivas and Sports Minister of India, Vijay Goel, has also begun to be replicated in other sports.
Namit had moved to New Jersey with his family in 2006 and is expected to arrive in Portugal to begin preparations with the team next month once he takes care of his academic commitments. The FIFA U-17 World Cup kicks off on the 6th of October.