Five south Mumbai school boys will undergo a 21-day coaching stint with English Premier League team Queens Park Rangers in London from next week.
Rudolf D'Souza (13), Arfat Ansari (15), Tanaay Shah (15), Uzair Ansari (15) and Praful Kumar (16) were selected after their display in the Milind Deora soccer championships by the club's coaches for next week's stint at QPR.
"This is the second set of winners that we are sending to the QPR's specialised training facility in London. These five boys are from our last three editions. We did this programme on a pilot basis in 2009 and at that time we had sent two boys to train and one of them, Shaun Fernandes, plays for India under-19," Deora said in Mumbai.
"Through this exercise, we are able to inculcate global football skills in our local talent. Through the years I have witnessed a lot of passion for football in Mumbai's youngsters.
"And this initiative is able to give them a first step in the right direction. I am hopeful that we would soon witness a national player arise from this grassroots football championship," added the Minister of State for shipping, communications and information technology.
Deora further said during their first edition, nearly 1,350 children had participated and during their last one held in October, over 4,000 children had participated.
"The Queens Park Rangers coaches have been impressed with some of the Indian talent. They said that the children are of a different build compared to those in England. But they have the passion and are eager to learn. They feel some of them have the potential to be international players," Deora said.
"It is a dream come true for me. I watch players of English Premier League play for their teams and have always wondered if I would get to play like this. Now through the Milind Deora Soccer Championship, I have a chance at not just meeting them but training like them. I am looking forward to the next three weeks and hope to learn a lot," said D'souza who, at 13, is the youngest of the lot.
Image: Milind Deora with the winners of Milind Deora Soccer Championship in Mumbai, on Monday.