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Brazil’s Santos seek trainees from J&K

Brazil, the five-time world champions, will, in all probability, welcome a footballer from Kashmir very soon. Sounds strange. But Santos Fotebal Clube, the club where the legendary Pele started his, has invited Juan Marcos Toria, a Brazilian, who is in Kashmir to train youngsters, reports Toufiq Rashid.

sports Updated: Oct 27, 2009 23:26 IST
Toufiq Rashid

Brazil, the five-time world champions, will, in all probability, welcome a footballer from Kashmir very soon. Sounds strange. But Santos Fotebal Clube, the club where the legendary Pele started his career at age 15, has invited Juan Marcos Toria, a Brazilian, who is in Kashmir to train youngsters, to select the valley's most promising youngster for the club.

Marcos was in the news last week after the government asked him to leave India by the month-end. But the good news is that the Centre has now allowed the coach to stay, thanks to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's letter to Home Minister P Chidambaram.

As reported by HT, Abdullah said in his letter, “The coach is doing a great service to Kashmiri youth and has weaned away at least 50 youth who were associated with disruptive activities in the past.”

The 33-year-old coach, whose wife has a meeting scheduled with the director of Santos, said, “The club have asked us to send one player a year, but we want to send at least two.”

Founded in 1912, Santos became a household name during Pele's 17-year stint with the club. They won two Copa Libertadores, two Inter-Continental Cups — 1962 and 1963 — and six national championships. On January 20, 1998, they became the first club in the history of the game to score 10,000 goals.

“I'm very happy, not only at the invitation but also at the prospects of sending more Kashmiris for training to Brazil and other places. Kashmiris have the talent and the physique,” Toria said.

“They can achieve great things if they get the right exposure. I foresee a great future for Kashmir in the game and that's my dream,” he added.

Troia, who trains around 1,000 youth in collaboration with the Jammu and Kashmir Football Association (JKFA) at the Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar, has been living in the valley with his three daughters and wife since April 2007. Apart from Brazil, two of his wards are also going to Spain.