Chennaiyin FC conducted a scouting festival for the final selection of kids from Tamil Nadu for the Reliance Foundation Young Champs.
The festival was conducted by Chennaiyin FC technical director of grassroots and first team assistant coach Syed Sabir Pasha along with several other coaches and volunteers, under the supervision of Reliance Foundation Young Champs head coach Marcus Michael Vaessen and assistant coach Jose Ramirez Barreto at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here in the city on Saturday morning.
Vaessen and his staff will be selecting the best kids from the grassroots program of each of the eight Hero Indian Super League franchises. As a part of that selection procedure, Chennaiyin FC have been scouting for kids born in 2004 and 2005 in various parts of Tamil Nadu including Chennai, Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur, Sivagangai, Erode, Coimbatore, Salem and Tirupur.
Saturday was the final leg of the selection for the Reliance Foundation Young Champs with 68 kids (born in 2004), 45 kids (born in 2005) participating while two goalkeepers born in 2002 also attended the festival. Chennaiyin FC arranged transport and accommodation for the children who travelled to Chennai from other parts of Tamil Nadu.
Once Vaessen and his team of coaches, under the supervision of ISL technical director of grassroots Piet Hubers, completes attending the final selections of all eight Hero Indian Super League franchises, the final list from Tamil Nadu will be announced.
Sabir, who hails from Tamil Nadu and is a former India international, was happy with the effort put in by all coaches, volunteers and of course the young talents of the state.
“We will have to wait and see how many of our boys get selected for the Reliance Foundation Young Champs but I feel everybody involved with our grassroots program has worked very hard to make sure we scout the best talent and give them the best training possible. There has never been a dearth of talent in the state and Chennaiyin FC and ISL now provides a great platform and more importantly a serious career option for all budding footballers. It can only encourage the kids and parents further,” Sabir stated.
G Balaji and H Gulab are current scholars at the Reliance Foundation Young Champs after getting selected last year from Chennaiyin’s grassroots program and club COO Varun Tripuraneni is hopeful more talents from Tamil Nadu will win that scholarship this year.
“Balaji and Gulab made us proud last year but even the kids who didn’t make it to the Young Champs program have progressed immensely at our Centre of Excellence over the last 12 months. We have seen some great talent in the two age groups that we scouted for this scholarship and it will be great to see more kids from our youth development program make it to the Reliance Foundation Young Champs this time,” said Varun.
The selection for the Reliance Foundation Young Champs mainly focuses on kids born in 2004 and 2005 this year but CFC’s grassroots program goes much beyond that.
The ISL holders have reached out to more than 20,000 children in the state and also run a Centre of Excellence with 35 kids each in the age groups of U-13 and U-15. A schools league was held last month while summer camps will be conducted in Coimbatore and Chennai.
“Chennaiyin FC have carried on the good work done last year in the grassroots. Sabir, Varun and their team work hard daily to ensure we scout the very best in the state and we try to give them the best football education. It is great to see that the kids enjoy their sessions and for that immense credit must go to the parents, schools, coaches and volunteers also for participating with great passion.
“It would give us great satisfaction to see many kids from our grassroots program get selected for the Reliance Foundation Young Champs but more importantly we are fully committed to develop the best talent in the state. We have already reached out to eight districts of Tamil Nadu and the long-term plan is to cover every district. Grassroots football is the best way to enhance the brand of a football club and we want to continue working hard on this front and strive for greater heights,” said Chennaiyin FC CEO Rahul Patil.