Great response to Airtel Rising Stars’ talent hunt programme
It was a T-20 format with a difference in football! For, the ‘Airtel Rising Stars’ talent hunt programme (under-16 years), organised by the Procam International, featured five-a-side selection matches, lasting 20 minutes each at the Gymkhana Grounds in Hyderabad on Friday.
For the record, three best young players from each of the 16 cities where this programme will be held across India, will be picked along with a goalkeeper from each of the four zones to have a pool of 52 players, according to Shankaran of Procam. Then the players will have a camp under the supervision of three Manchester United coaches for four days from September 10. They will be split into four teams and play matches. Then, the 12 best amongst them will be taken to Manchester United (UK) for full-length tour-cum-exposure trip.
With a selection panel comprising -- James Sr, Kanta Prasad, Anwar Hussain, S. Tony (of Shastri Soccer Club), E. Shyam (SBH) and former international G.P. Phalguna – closely monitoring the entire selection process spread over for the next three days, the young talent was all excited.
“It is a good experience and a huge opportunity,” remarked young Amogh from the city. So was the case with Justin and Sanjit, who felt it was a unique feeling to be out there on the field and showcase their skills. “We are all excited at the prospect of going to Manchester United,” they said.
Significantly, the programme is not all about scoring goals, for even they don’t assure a place in the next phase. “We look at the skills and how they perform under different situations. Goals don’t matter,” says Shankaran even as Phalguna and Tony nod in agreement. So no wonder 61 out of about 300 made it to the next step.
With the organisers distributing forms in about 300 schools in the twin cities alone, they expect another 300 for the next two days of selections which culminate on Sunday.
“Even for us it was a rare experience. But most importantly, the response shows the craze the game has in the city,” insists Tony, the organiser from Trimulgherry. Amazing response given the fact that sport is in a slumber in most part of areas of Hyderabad thanks to infighting in the AP Football Association.