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Arsenal official says youth is the key

New Delhi: Top Arsenal official Adrian Ford feels that reducing the number of foreign players in domestic tournaments will not help Indian football.

Talking to The Telegraph from Mumbai on Tuesday, the commercial director of the famous Premiership club said: “The key to success is youth development. Local players will only come to the fore through good youth development programmes.”

Ford is in India for the launch of the Tata Tea Arsenal Soccer Stars, a football tournament and coaching programme for children aged between 10 and 15.

Starting from January 12 next year, the programme will begin in phases across four zones ó south, west, north and east ó with each zone having its own elimination rounds, culminating in a national tournament, to decide the final winner.

Thirty talented boys, identified by a panel of professional footballers during the tournament, will be given two weeks of coaching by Arsenal coaches in Calcutta. This will be followed up with a final selection of 15 boys who will be taken to attend a training camp at the Emirates.

Ford believed that the number of foreign players at the club level would automatically come down if local players were found to be good. “The clubs will not recruit foreigners if local talent is available,” he said.

Ford said the Arsenal management believed there was enough talent in India. “India is a country with huge population. There must be a lot of talented youngsters here. We in association with Tata Tea will like to spot those players.”

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