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SAI to scout talent for U-17 Football World Cup

Srinagar: Sports Authority of India (SAI) on Thursday launched a national scouting project to identify young footballers from the country for the upcoming Under-17 Football World Cup that India hosts in 2017.

"Our plan is to search for the talented youth who can be the potential players of India's Under-17 WC team in 2017. India is hosting the mega event and in order to put up good show, we want to have the best players represent the country.

We want to create a formidable side for 2017," Ex-Olympian and Chief Project Director SAI, S S Hakeem, told reporters in Srinagar.

Hakeem is in the state for the three-day talent hunt to select 40 players from the state from whom the best talent would be selected to undergo training to be able to make the national team. He said the SAI and All India Football Federation (AIFF) has launched joint venture across the country through which they are identifying the talented players for the upcoming event.

"Quality comes when there is quantity. We will be conducting talent hunt trials in different parts of the country and shortlist players for the talent pool among which the final list of players for the mega event will be selected," he said.

The players selected during the open talent hunt would be nurtured in the academies at New Delhi, Kolkata and other places, the chief project director said.

Hakeem said "India may no more be a force to reckon with in the football world", but the youth of the country have started to look beyond cricket and take interest in the football.

Hakeem said that Kashmir has got talent in abundance and there was every chance that the selectors would find enough talent here.

"There is much more football in Kashmir than anywhere else in the country. I have high hopes that selectors will find some talented youth during the trails that will make it to the nurtures camps for New Delhi where they will be given training," he said. He rued the fact that there were very less domestic football tournaments in the country.

"We have less domestic tournaments. If there are no tournaments, then there won't be any interest left in the youth. They do not play for entertainment," he said.

The 2017 World Cup will be the 17th edition of the tournament which India will host for the first time.

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