"It is important to take initiatives to keep up the interest levels of football, promote this sport further and increase its reach within India," explained Paul Shipwright, head of top English football club Arsenal FC’s soccer schools.
Shipwright was in the city to launch the 4th edition of the 'Arsenal Tata Tea Jaago Re Soccer Stars' tournament and said that the event had been taken to the grassroots level. "Arsenal is very proud to be involved in this partnership to promote football at a grassroots level in India. It involves giving the kids top quality coaching by Arsenal coaches and the experience of being treated like a professional footballer."
Asked whether Arsenal plan to set up their own soccer school in the country like their tie-up with the Wadi Degla Club in Cairo, Shipwright said that the scope for such a system was limited for now.
He added that the initiative was unlike their community development programs, like the one in South Africa, despite their under-15 tournament here reaching out to three rural cities this year.
The competition will be played in 15 cities on an inter-city format with the winners in each region facing each other in the finals.
The youngsters will be trained by coaches from Arsenal and the top 16 players will represent India at the club's international soccer festival in London next year.