With an aim to create a platform for talent-scouting at the grassroot level across the country, Nita Ambani, the founder and chairperson of Football Sports Development Limited, on Sunday launched ISL #grassroots football movement at the Dhirubhai Ambani International School in Mumbai.
The ISL #grassroots programme aims to reach out to a million young footballers in the first few years and expose them to the best practices in global football.
“Education and sports play an important role in the development of a child and in nation-building. Sports is vital to the holistic development of young people, fostering their physical, social and emotional health,” Ms. Ambani said.
“Sports is important to build character and channelise abundant energy of our children in a positive direction. Now that we are approaching the business-end of the league, we are launching the soul of ISL, the grassroots programme,” she added.
This long-term initiative will be a joint effort of ISL, the eight ISL Clubs, Reliance Foundation and three NGOs — Magic Bus in Mumbai, Delhi, Raigad and Bangalore; Slum Soccer in Nagpur, Thane and Navi Mumbai; and Yuwa in Jharkhand.
In the first phase, the #grassroots programmes will aim to reach out to 500,000 children through in-school and maidan initiatives, starting early 2015. The programmes will focus on introduction of kids to football, training and talent-scouting through a series of selection modules across the country.
As part of the initiative, ISL will distribute 100,000 footballs with a specific focus on towns and villages across the country.
“Football is a life skill. It is wonderful to see India becoming a multi-sport nation. The #grassroots training and scouting camps will train and outfit India’s young footballing talent,” Ambani, who is also the chairperson of Reliance Foundation, said.
Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, founder of Being Human — the Salman Khan Foundation, also endorsed Ambani’s vision.
“Football #grassroots programme is an important step for the development of the beautiful game,” said Salman.
Top talent in the age group of 10 to 13 that emerges from these camps will undergo another selection process to be picked for Reliance Foundation’s #YoungChamps scholarship. The full-time Residential scholarship, provided over three-to-seven year period, will also cover their education.
The idea is to select these #YoungChamps and train them so that they are able to join the league of top footballers and make India a footballing nation.