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Goal to spot Messis & Neymars at home

Football great Pelé developed his dribbling skills by kicking rolled-up socks stuffed with rags or newspapers in his hometown in Brzail’s Sao Paulo

Argentine (and Barca) magician Leo Messi was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency at the age of 11. At 26, he is a three-time recipient of the FIFA Ballon d’Or

Neymar, the soccer prodigy from Sao Paulo, started with Santos FC in Brazil and now with Barcelona is worth around 66 million pounds

In this season of the football World Cup, Bihar is in search of its Pelés, Maradonas, Messis and Neymars.

The art, culture and youth affairs department has come up with a plan to identify youths in the hinterlands of the state with a knack for soccer and other sports. The government plans to nurture talents from panchayat- and district-level so that they can play for the nation like Pelé and Maradona.

Department minister Vinay Bihari on Monday said football, cricket and volleyball teams would be developed in each panchayat. The players would be provided with the required infrastructure to help them sharpen their skills.

He said: “At present, we are concentrating on football, cricket and volleyball. There have been examples of soccer greats rising from humble backgrounds and achieving fame and success with hard work and support. We are sure that Bihar, too, has a lot of talent in the hinterlands, who with proper care can rise to greatness.”

Officials in the department said the work on the scheme would start in three months. For funds, the government has asked the district administrations to return the money provided under Panchayat Yuva Krida and Khel Abhiyan in 2009-10. Vinay said the state received around Rs 39 crore under the scheme approved by the Centre to nurture rural talents. The amount was not utilised and now would be used to create teams.

Vinay added: “Once a panchayat gets 30 youths keen to play cricket and football and 20 youths to play volleyball, their interest would be verified by the district administration. Once the details are sent to the department, the required kits would be distributed. Four footballs and a pair of good-quality boots and a cricket kit, including four bats and six balls, would be provided to the players for a year. The department would keep a close watch on the practice sessions.”

State-level players from Bihar and outside would be called to assist the players.

An official said: “The second phase involves forming district teams and organising competitive tournaments. The idea is to get the best teams for Bihar.”


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