SHEFFIELD UNITED: Blades cast an eye over Indians

Hello to Tata: Training at Shirecliffe.                   Pictures: martyn harrison
Hello to Tata: Training at Shirecliffe. Pictures: martyn harrison
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SPORTS lovers know how talented India’s young cricketers are. Now Sheffield gets the chance to see the standard of its young footballers.

Members of India’s Tata Football Academy (TFA), the country’s top football academy, have just begun a three-week stay in the city, where they will train, play fixtures against local teams and be guests at Sheffield United’s home games against Bury and Doncaster Rovers later this month.

Tour of Bramall Lane.                   Pictures: martyn harrison

Tour of Bramall Lane. Pictures: martyn harrison

United have forged a relationship with TFA spearheaded by former Blades midfielder Lee Walshaw who pays regular visits to the TFA in Jamshedpur - known as India’s Steel City.

Along with other Sheffield United coaching staff, he is continuing a programme to support the development of the young Indian players and the aim is to strengthen the relationship which could lead to the best players being assessed at Bramall Lane.

The Blades established its partnership with the Academy in 2010, providing advice and coaching to support the development of more than 35 of India’s top young players aged between 16 and 19.

The first of the fixtures is against Sheffield FC U19s at the Coach and Horses ground, Dronfield tonight (7.30pm).

“All the boys are buzzing and even though they’ve only had a few sessions you can see how keen they are to learn and how much this visit means to them,” said Walshaw who visits India six times a year.

“The TFA have made a big commitment to be here and everyone connected with Sheffield United is passing on their knowledge and experience as the players look to achieve their dreams of becoming professional footballers.”

Dave McCarthy, United’s managing director, said: “Our relationship with the TFA is extremely important to the long-term future success of United. We can assist India to improve its standing in world football by supporting development of players and are well placed to develop important commercial links.