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Sheffield club class for TFA boys

At a time when India is 154 in FIFA rankings 2014, here’s some hope for 2018 or 2022, courtesy Tata Football Academy (TFA), Jamshedpur.

As eight nations have romped to the quarterfinals at the World Cup and one among them will win the fabled gold trophy at Rio de Janeiro on July 13, India’s football fans even while rooting madly for a Brazil or a Columbia or a Germany, are left wondering humara number kab aayega.

But to break into World Cup league, a nation needs to nurture talent for years. This is something TFA believes in.

This monsoon, 20 boys from the premier football academy will fly to United Kingdom’s Sheffield United Football Club (Sheffield United FC) for a three-week exposure tour, helped by three support staff.

The TFA and the South Yorkshire-based Sheffield United FC, which was founded way back in 1889, have a tie-up.

“This exposure visit is taking place after a year,” said Tata Steel sports department head Charles Borromeo, who also handles the affairs of the football cradle.

“Our boys will fly to the UK in August or early September. The tour is final but we need to fix a date and the mentors who will go with the boys,” he added.

Borromeo, an Arjuna Award-winning athlete who won gold for India in Asiad 1982, added he was hopeful that exposure visits would help TFA cadets immensely.

“They get tips in footwork, strategy, leadership. They play friendly matches against academy teams and learn to think on their feet,” he said.

“Even coaches pick up a lot of training techniques,” a TFA functionary said.

TFA’s deal with Sheffield United FC includes an exchange programme wherein cadets play tournaments in European countries. Besides, the deal also helps cadets learn the tricks of the game in academies run by the UK club in China and Hungary.

Gordon Young, director of Scotland-based Motherwell Academy who is looking after the technical wing at the TFA, has already left for UK for expediting the upcoming exposure tour.

“Young left last month and will be in Sheffield to assist the boys,” the TFA official added.

Before its tie-up with Sheffield United FC in August 2010, TFA boys trained at Cologne University in Germany.