Mumbai: Fifteen under 14 footballers, including six from Mumbai and the rest from Maharashtra, are to travel to Germany for a six-year training programme with Bundeliga side, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, as part of the U Dream Football Programme.
Two more boys would leave for Germany later this year and during their stay in Germany, they would be accompanied by coaches - former India captain Mahesh Gawli and John Kenneth Raj.
Also accompanying the children would be three CBSE Certified teachers who would monitor and ensure their adherence towards the Indian CBSE Curriculum while in Germany.
On their return from their six-ear tenure, the students would be enrolled at the U Dream Haryana Football Club, which was specifically formed in association with the Haryana Football Association for these students, it was announced.
The selected boys are: Pranav Kanse (Kolhapur), Akash Mishra (Lucknow), Pradeep Mannewar (Udaipur), Aniket Varekar (Kolhapur), Shivam Maan (New Delhi), Kumar Rathod (Mumbai), Ayush Adhikari (Noida), Ankit Bhuyan (Bhubaneshwar), Ishant Rana (Mumbai), Raul Lewis (Mumbai), Armaan Kalra (Gurgaon), Delton Colaco, Kimran Fernandes, Wellyster Mendes (Goa) and Manish Malyadri Siddha (Pune).
"Unlike other football programes, the long-term association allows students to truly imbibe the spirit of the game and also understand an international level of professionalism that accompanies being a professional footballer. We believe that this programme will truly allow us to be catalysts of change at the grassroot level of the sport," said Supratik Sen, CEO of U Sports.
The full-scholarship programme, done under the collaborative guidance of Bundesliga, was a scouting programme based across 1,000 schools in over 45 cities to send 17 boys (aged under 14 years) to Zuzenhausen, Germany and train at the TSG 1899 Hoffenheim academy.
It was also announced that over the next few months, U Sports would introduce 10 excellence centres across the country that will be staffed with coaches from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Bundesliga to implement a coaching programme for children to build a stronger base of candidates for the next programme and also to train coaches across the country.
"Under the U Dream Football banner, we hope to enhance the country's youth development system in the sport. These 15 boys on their return and post the rigorous and scientific training under the watchful guidance of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim's certified coaches, will be a great contribution to the sport in the country," said U Sports founder, Ronnie Screwvala.
"As we gear up to host the U-17 FIFA World Cup, we know that it is programmes such as these that will be a huge benefit to the sporting ecosystem," he added.