Chhetri joins hands with Metz to develop football

Chhetri joins hands with Metz to develop football

National captain Sunil Chhetri has joined former Indian team manager Eric Benny’s initiative with French Ligue 1 club FC Metz to develop Indian football at the grassroots.

Chhetri, who has become the brand ambassador of Eric Benny Sports Management, said he was impressed by the club on his visit to France and the way they gave equal opportunities to budding footballers under its wings.

Louis Saha, Emmanuel Adebayor, Robert Pires and Miralem Pjanic were some of the names who came from FC Metz.

Benny, who was looking for a right club to partner with, entered into partnership with FC Metz to improve the quality of Indian football, with education being a priority. The 11-month programme is designed to groom the youngsters in sport as well academics.

This year four Indian children from Delhi and NCR schools were selected through an initiative called 'My Chance'. Their training will be sponsored at the FC Metz Centre de Formation in France.

“Over the years I have seen many players vanishing because they did not have the discipline and the right values. We need to develop the basics at the grassroots levels. We need to have a programme where kids are training six days a week.

I was little skeptical when Eric told me about this initiative. But when I went to France, I saw the Indian kids being part of the squad and training with other kids from France and other countries,” Chhetri told reporters on Friday.

“When I was growing up, I could never imagine such exposure and training in one of Europe's top academies under the tutelage of well-known footballers like Pires. Honestly, I feel happy and jealous at the same time.”

Time consuming

Benny added: “It took me a while to find the club, but I did it, and FC Metz was on the same wavelength as me. They do not differentiate between French and Indian players and that is extremely important. They keep education as a priority, if any of these kids fail, they are returning back to the country.”

With under-17 World Cup being hosted by India just three years away, Chhetri was naturally thrilled.

“The focus on youth development at the grassroots being already there and the U-17 World Cup three years away, this is just ideal,” he said.

Chhetri, fresh from Bengaluru FC’s title victory in the I-League, said he was focussing on the Asian Games now. The Indian team will have camp from July 1 as part of the three-month long preparation for the Games, which will take place in Incheon, South Korea, from September 19 to October 4.

“We want to make best possible national team for the Asian Games," said Chhetri, who tipped Brazil as favourites for the forthcoming World Cup.

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