CHANDIGARH, APRIL 5 As many as 32 schools have so far confirmed their entries in the fourth leg of the Under-15 Tata Tea Arsenal Soccer Stars, conceptualized by High Life Management and an initiative of Tata Tea in association with Arsenal FC of UK to search for the fifteen soccer stars of India, will be held with the technical support of the Chandigarh Football Association (CFA) on April 8 and 9 at the Sector 17 Football Stadium here.
The league-cum-knockout tournament will start at 7.30 am and continue till 5.00 p.m on both the days. The two finalists will go on to compete in the national finals with 14 other finalists from different cities across the country. The duration of the seven-a-side match will be two sessions of seven minutes each. The tournament will be observed over by two scouts, former internationals Jamshid Nassiri and Harjinder Singh, with an objective of finding promising kids showing exceptional talent in the game. Addressing a press conference consultant Jamshid Nassiri said the Tata Tea Arsenal Soccer Stars is a one of its kind football tournaments for children aged 10 – 15 years (born on or after September 1, 1992). The tournament offers the selected boys access to unparalleled training programmes including the customized Arsenal development programme called The Arsenal Way. Starting on January 27, the tournament will take place in phases across nine cities – Bangalore, Calicut, Goa, Chandigarh, Delhi, Mumbai, Bhubaneswar, Shillong, Kolkata, with each city having its own elimination round, culminating in a national tournament. The two finalists from each city (except Shillong and Bhubaneswar which will have 1 team each) will then battle it out for the Champion School of India. A total of 16 teams will play the All India finals in Kolkata on May 16 and 17. Nassiri said that running parallel is a scouting programme, where a minimum of 3 boys per venue will be chosen, eventually choosing 30 boys, who will be coached for a two-week period in Kolkata under Arsenal coaches. Of these 30, 15 will be chosen and taken to Arsenal FC, UK, to train there and participate in the Arsenal International Soccer Festival. Nassiri said that main aim of the tournament is to provide exposure to the players at the grass root level. "I have seen smallest and the metroplitan cities of India. There is no dearth of talent. Only thing is that the players are not getting enough exposure," said Nassiri. Asked how they would tackle the overage problem, Nassiri said "we have associated reputed personalities. We have made it clear to the school authorities not to field any overaged player. If a case is questionable, we will asked the concerned officials to withdraw the player or we will scratch the team." Chandigarh Football Association secretary Rakesh Bakshi said "a medical team with ambulance will be available for treatment."