Soccer camp to sieve future Messis - 120 aspirants from 10 states vie for 25 berths in SAIL cradles

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By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 11.03.15

A selection match for SAIL Football Academy aspirants at Mohan Kumar Mangalam Stadium in Bokaro on Tuesday. Picture by Pankaj Singh

Around 120 aspiring footballers from 10 states have arrived in the coal town to dribble into the prestigious SAIL Football Academies and achieve their ultimate goal - to become a Messi or a Ronaldo.

The budding players from states of Manipur, Mizoram, Assam, Bengal, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra and Kerala are taking part in the selection trials for both juniors and seniors' categories that kicked off at Mohan Kumar Mangalam Stadium in Bokaro on Tuesday.

The participants - all between 14 and 16 years - will have to go through rigorous fitness drills and skill tests during the two-day camp to make the cut for admission to the SAIL cradles, considered to be among the best coaching institutes in the country for budding young talents.

A selection panel, comprising Pravin Kumar (Bhilai steel plant), Supriyo Dasgupta and Arup Das (CMO, Kolkata), Surojit Sarcar (EMD, Kolkata), Ranjit Haldar (ISP, Burnpur) and Subhash Rajak (BSL) and former international player Ajay Kumar Singh, are judging the candidates on the basis of their speed, fitness and other parameters.

According to sources, the results are to be announced on Wednesday evening, at the end of the selection camp.

A total of 14 cadets in the age group of 14-15 years will be selected in the junior category for admission to the SAIL academy in Bokaro while another 11 candidates, all above 15 years of age, will be selected in the senior category and will be sent to the PSU's Burnpur-based cradle.

The selected players in each group will undergo three years of rigorous training at their respective institutes. The cadets will be provided free accommodation, meals, dress, sport kits and medical facilities, among others. They will also get the opportunity to complete their schooling from the SAIL schools in Bokaro and Burnpur and get free books and uniforms.

"Once a player gets a berth in the SAIL academies, his future is made. All the expenses for training are taken care of by the SAIL. Moreover, after the three-years' training, he will be picked up by one of the best five professional clubs in the country," Ajay Kumar Singh, one of the selectors, told The Telegraph.