Calcutta: The Tata Football Academy is all set for a tie-up with English side Sheffield United FC. Informing this at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Thursday, a senior TFA official said the deal will see Sheffield United FC academy coaches staying at the TFA for at least eight months.
“Earlier our association with Sheffield was more of an exchange programme. But this will be a big leap. Their coaches will be staying in Jamshedpur as technical directors. The English club has the legacy and we are keen to join hands with them,” the official added.
Twenty-six years into the ‘business’ of producing players, the TFA has lost its relevance to some extent.
So much so that the clubs, who till some years back used to queue up at Jamshedpur to rope in the young players who were graduating, have turned their back.
In fact last year, there wasn’t any noteworthy transfer to any I-League club.
Conceding that TFA is not producing quality players like it would have wanted to, chief coach P. Vijay Kumar said the tie-up with Sheffield United will help country’s first football academy to regain ground.
“I agree TFA is not producing players like it used to 10 years back. One important reason is the mushrooming of regional football academies. Budding players of Manipur and Goa prefer those academies over the TFA. Who will want to stay away from parents at such an young age?”
The present batch played against East Bengal on Thursday morning. They lost 0-3 with Joaquim Abranches, Nilendra Dewan and Harmanjyot Singh Khabra scoring the goals.
Central defender Jarmanjeet Singh is one of the few who caught the eye. Jarmanjeet is tall and well-built and Kumar believes he is surely one for the future.
So are Biswajit Sardar, a discovery of Jamshed Nassiri, and Munir Ansari, who used to practice at Mohammedan Sporting when Shabbir Ali was the coach.
“Munir has the quality but still has miles to go. Let’s not put pressure on him,” goalkeeping coach Gumpe Rime said.
Yes, pressure is something TFA cadets find it difficult to handle when thrown into the cauldron. PC Lalawmpuiya is a perfect example.
For the record, TFA will be playing Mohammedan Sporting early next week and will travel to Shillong to play a two pre-season matches against Lajong FC and Royal Wahingdoh Football Club.
“These matches will give them an idea about life as a professional player,” Vijay said.