Sunday, January 6, 2008

Bharti to pump in over Rs100cr for football

Bharti Enterprises today joined hands with All India Football Federation (AIFF) to help the country attain global standard in the sport.



The company has signed an MoU with AIFF under the terms of which, it will pump in Rs 100 crore towards a comprehensive National Football Development Programme and for globalisation of Indian football with a target to take India to the World Cup.



As a first step, the telecom company will start a world class football academy named 'Bharti-AIFF Academy' which will be set up either in Haryana or Goa.



Bharti chief Sunil Mittal said he wanted a "football revolution" in the country and was ready to invest "any amount of money" necessary for providing a world class academy.



"Bharti has signed an MoU with the AIFF with an aim to make this country a football nation and next ten years must be a target for India to be at the world cup. This project has the capacity to transform the nation and all the investment would be made by Bharti Foundation," Mittal said today.



"We have become too obsessed with cricket and the time has now come for us to develop football in the country. Nothing is more pulsating than the 90-minute entertainment on a football field," he said.



"I am starting with a few hundred crore, but I assure you I am ready to invest any amount of money for whatever it takes for the academy and a few other initiatives.



"The academy will train young talent in the 8 to 18 year age group and I hope it will turn into a supply line for the national team down the years," he said.



Mittal said it was a philanthropic initiative by the company and there was no commercial angle to it. However, he later said the investment will give Bharti commercial mileage when the game succeeds.



Calling the Bharti initiative as the beginning of an era, AIFF president Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said Bharti's involvement in football would not be confined to building the academy alone though he said a kick start is necessary to take care of the business viability aspect.



"AIFF and Bharti will work together for the development of Indian football. There is a small ray of light in our house," Dasmunsi said.



Work on the academy will start by March 31.



"They (Bharti) want it to come up in Goa. They are talking to Haryana government also. A final decision will be taken soon," AIFF general secretary Alberto Colaco, who was also present, said.



Mittal said the academy, which will initially take around 100 youngsters in four age group categories of 8-11, 11-13, 13-15 and 15-18, will have all modern club style facilities including multiple grounds, basic training, coaching and medical facilities.



It will also have on-site educational facilities and hostels so that the selected youngsters can study regular subjects while developing their football skills.



The youngsters will be selected under a massive talent hunt programme throughout the country to find out budding talent via scientific means.

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