Kochi: Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar today rued the absence of a system to identify and nurture talent early in India, saying they are spotted only in their later years, by which time it was too late for them to compete in international level.
"I feel in many countries, talents are identified at a young age. That is what we lack in India. When we identify talents, they are in teens. That is too late for competing in international matches," he said during a brief interaction with reporters here soon after launching ISL franchise Kerala Blasters' team anthem and jersey.
Sachin, co-owner of Kerala Basters football team, said they had signed local talent Dileep Menon, who would soon join the outfit. "We will continue to support local talents," he said adding when he came to Kerala during April/may to announce the formation of the team, they had said local talent would be encouraged.
On the team's yellow jersey, he said it stands for determination and faith. The Blasters have succeeded in acquiring players within India and from all football playing countries, he said. Tendulkar said they had various plans to spot and adopt talent at the grass root level which will be started soon.
"Soon plans will be executed to become a competitive side at the international level," he said. The maestro said though India has the talent, the country has not been able to provide them the right platform. When it was pointed out that IPL is a success as most players in it are international stars and that may not apply to ISL, Tendulkar said, "I think we have international players. David is proof and he said he wants to give something back to the sport. It is what they bring. They are only going to learn rubbing shoulders. I feel it is an opportunity."
"In IPL, the players are from remote areas. They are no big names. Why not encourage him?. And it is something I feel, we have lacked over the years. Provide them the right platform. In India there is right talent. We have not been able to provide them the right platform. Over a period the face of Indian football will change," he said.
To another query, Tendulkar said 'It is important for me to support all sports in India, football and cricket, Kabaddi and badminton leagues. Both are successful now. I see no reason that the ISL should not succeed. It was the responsibility of everyone, not only of team owners and players alone, to ensure that it succeeds."
On the first match of Kerala Blasters not being played at Kochi, he said it was difficult to keep everyone happy. "We want to play good football."
Asked if there were plans to tie up with any football clubs, he said the management would take a decision in this
The theme song has been composed by M M Sreelekha, who has composed music for 75 films and sung by Malayalam actor Kalabhavan Mani. Tendulkar said there are 62 million diabetic patients in India.
"That should be reason for all of us to support sports from the grass root level till one stops breathing." To perform consistently, good fitness is essential, he said. Urging everyone to look after their health, he said, "Let us become the healthiest and fittest nation of the world."