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Enter Liverpool,to change Indian football scene with Pune as base

There could soon be more Indians dreaming of the tricolor fluttering at the football World Cup.

Written by Ashish Pendse | Pune |
January 7, 2009 11:07:50 pm

Fillip to come from ‘Soccer Prince’,soon-to-be-kicked-off reality show that will hunt for talent

There could soon be more Indians dreaming of the tricolor fluttering at the football World Cup. When ‘Soccer Prince’,the first ever football reality show hunting for budding football talent kicks off on Indian TV screen,it will have a distinct Pune touch.

That is because Liverpool,the renowned English soccer club,is planning to set up a football development centre at Pune,the first of its kind in India. And feeding this centre with talent would be the resource pool thrown up by this reality show.

Ian Ayre,the commercial director of Liverpool and Steve Bellis,the director of the global football promotion firm ‘kickworldwide’ shared plans of this unique endeavor with reporters here on Tuesday. Also present was Vishwjeet Kadam,the host of the proposed football development centre.

“The policy decision to kick off the football revolution has been finalised. We are working out the modalities. An official announcement will be made within a month,” said Ayre.

‘Soccer prince’ is already a hit on Chinese television with more than 20,000 taking part in the show. The Indian model of ‘soccer prince’ aims at attracting more teenage soccer players,said Bellis,the main brain behind the show.

Outlining the nature of the Indian version of ‘soccer prince’,Bellis said talks were on with one of the leading media houses to telecast the show.

“Our goal is to provide a platform for football players from the grassroots as we will be rolling it out in hundreds of schools,colleges and football clubs. Like their Chinese counterparts,winners of this reality show will get a chance to train for one year with leading clubs in England,” he said.

Ayre said merely setting up a professional football league would not help the cause of improving the overall standard of Indian football. “The whole system has to be professional and receptive. The proposed football centre will strive to create this kind of infrastructure. It will project football as a lucrative career option not just as a player,but as a manager,coach,administrator and support staff as well.”

“Only merchandising Liverpool products in Indian market will not serve the purpose. The aim is to create the right ambience for football in the country and ultimately produce local football heroes like Sachin Tendelkar is for cricket,” Ayre said.

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