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India new destination for African Youth

African youths who have some football skills visit India and get playing contracts in clubs, reports Faisul Yaseen.

india Updated: Dec 01, 2006 23:39 IST

India is becoming a new destination for African youth pursuing profession in sports. Most of them who have 'some skills' in football visit India and get contracts playing for football clubs, big and small, all around the country.

The football clubs in turn benefit from their talent and experience. For getting better results on the field, they hire them on annual salaries good enough for these Africans to live a lavish lifestyle at least in India.

Issacs Joe, 22, who hails from Ghana plays for Shastri Football Club, New Delhi. He has also enrolled himself at the Manipal IT University and studies business administration.

"My friend Musa plays for Mohammadan Sporting. He told me about India and my prospects of getting a contract playing football here. When I came to Delhi, he introduced me to the Shastri Football Club. Since then I'm playing for them," Joe told Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview. He is presently in Jammu playing the National Football League, winning the hearts of the football lovers here with his magical skills on the football.

Joe idolises the iconic French footballer Zinedine Zidane. Among the Indian footballers, he thinks Baichung Bhutia is head and shoulders above others. Spotting beaded hair, quite familiar of most Africans, Joe is fashion conscious. Quite media conscious, Joe is also fond of Indian movies.

"Burning Train, Mad and Umrao Jaan, not the remake, are my all time favourites," he says.

In most African countries, the standard of football is high and even the mediocre footballers in most African nations make better footballers in India, which is ranked one of the 50 worst football playing nations in the world.

Some of Joe's African friends play for other football clubs in different Indian states.

"Some of my friends from Nigeria and other African countries play football here and earn a handsome living," he said pointing at another African footballer playing for a football club of Haryana.

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First Published: Dec 01, 2006 20:11 IST