Mumbai, 24 November, 2014: U Sports, the sports division of Unilazer Ventures, founded by Mr. Ronnie Screwvala announced the launch of U-Dream, a football training and academic program designed to develop the finest Indian football talent who can place India on the professional football circuit.
In collaborative guidance of Bundesliga, U Sports has partnered with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim for the first edition of U-Dream football, aimed at creating a rich ecosystem of Indian talent with an objective of transforming them into global athletes.
In a country with a population of over 1.2 billion, U-Dream program will offer an opportunity to talented footballers and their parents to foresee and opt for a full-fledged career in professional football. U-Dream is among the very few programs which offers international football coaching and strong academic qualifications at the same time.
This crucial step taken by U Sports aims to build a deep seeded foundation for the radical development and transformation of Indian football. Thus, U-Dream program encourages participation from talented football players of 13 or 14 years of age, in the first year where the focus is to transform young talent into a pro-team of Under-17 footballers. However, the search will widen to Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17 categories from the year 2016.
U-Dream program will start with talent selection tournaments conducted between January and April, 2015, across 50 cities which will witness participation from 1000 schools. In 2016, the program aims to deepen its reach by widening the search to 100 cities, registering participation from 2000 schools. An expert judging panel comprising of Subrata Paul – Project Advisor, Mahesh Gawli – Chief of Training and Lutz Pfannenstiel – International Advisor TSG Hoffenheim will oversee the selection process to identify the finest talent from across the country who will be sent to Germany for the 6 year residential program. A team of five Indian coaches and three German Coach/ Scouts will closely monitor the tournaments in each city.
This year, only 30 finest footballers identified from the massive talent hunt will be sent to Zuzenhausen, in Germany where they will train at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s youth training academy with complete access to the club’s rich facilities and world-class infrastructure.
To ensure there is an equal focus on the young footballer’s academic development along with football training, U Sports has also collaborated with Motilal Nehru School of Sports, Rai. Founded by the government of Haryana, its primarily objective is to provide excellent education facilities with equal emphasis on sports to deserving students. Motilal Nehru School of Sports will be conducting a 10-day schooling camp for the 30 athlete students and their parents at the school campus prior to their departure where they will be briefed on the curriculum, course structure and program tutors.
The 30 student athletes will undergo CBSE education coupled with German language training in the first year of U-Dream program. In the second year, they will have an option to continue with CBSE schooling or apply for admission in the German Public Education system. The program will also offer expert counselling to the players to help them decide on the course of action if they wish to opt for German education.
Commenting on this occasion, Mr. Supratik Sen, CEO – U Sports said “Over 20,000 football players across the globe earn more than $ 1 million a year which suggests that there are very few careers as exceptional as a professional footballers’. It is time Indian talent makes its mark on the world football map. Our alliance with Germany starting with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim will set the ball rolling as it will build a strong talent pool who will compete in the developed and evolved football market.
With the prospect of igniting sports development in the country, U-Dream program will not only serve as a platform for potential players but will also equip them with education and infrastructure support hence taking them closer to their dream of becoming a pro player. We hope to reach out to a much larger pool of aspirants in the coming year by widening our search for the finest Under-17 football talent who will represent India in Under-17 World Cup in 2017.”
Mr. Thomas Richter, Head of Hoffenheim’s Match Operations and First-team Administration, who is also responsible for the club’s internationalization said, “Talent development at the grass-root level is paramount in the Bundesliga and is the key in placing India in the international football circuit as this can serve as an opportunity to produce the finest football talent from the country, who are groomed from a young age.
We are glad to collaborate with U Sports for this unique program which offers an ideal platform to the youth to train and grow in the sport. As an ongoing plan, these players will build a strong back bone for the development of football in India.”
U-Dream program is open to all school children of 13 or 14 years of age. Bonafide students born on or after 1st January, 2000 but on or before 31st December, 2001.