Jamshedpur, July 26: The Sheffield United Football Club (SUFC) wants Tata soccer cradle to take the next step forward and enter the arena of professional competition.
Lee Walshaw, the UK-based club’s consultant coach to Tata Football Academy (TFA), said the cradle should now work toward setting up a club to compete in tournaments like I-League. Sheffield’s club shares its expertise and experience with TFA.
“Setting up a club and playing professional football is the next step forward. I have already made the suggestion to the TFA management. It is now up to the authorities to take a decision in this regard,” Walshaw, the head of international coaching (SUFC), told The Telegraph.
He added as a club, the TFA should first compete in Under-19 I-League and then try to progress to the top league. “So far, TFA has been taking part in U-19 I-League as an academy. We have already played 17 matches in the U-19 category in the past two years. So, we are not lacking on the experience front,” he pointed out.
The 47-year-old coach said Sheffield’s club was here to add professional edge to the teaching techniques and help improve boys’ skills. “I have been paying periodical visits to the cradle since 2011 and have seen the cadets from close quarters. The boys see their induction into the TFA as a great opportunity. Now, it’s time to move to the professional level,” the highly experienced mentor added.
Moreover, Walshaw suggested that TFA should start charging money from clubs that buy cadets from the cradle. “The institute spends a huge amount of money behind the cadets’ training and wellbeing. I think TFA should try and make an arrangement with professional clubs for getting compensated. The funds thus generated can be spent on the ongoing programmes for boys in 10, 12 and 14 age groups,” he said.
He added that such kind of arrangement might also have a risk quotient. “It is possible that some clubs do not show interest in TFA boys if this arrangement is proposed. But football has become highly professional in India and there would be enough clubs which will be happy to pay to get boys from the academy,” he added.
Besides Walshaw, SUFC also sends other visiting faculties to the cradle from time to time. Gordon Young (technical), Chris Broadbent (physio), Christoper Bradley (sports psychologist) Luke Jenkinson and Lee Rikards (strength and conditioning coach) work with the boys here.