The Tata Football Academy and English Championship side Sheffield United FC yesterday signed a three year partnership deal in Jamshedpur under which TFA will get technical expertise from the English club plus get international exposure to their coaches and cadets. The deal has been a long time coming with being on and off over the last couple of years, but finally it has been signed and hopefully it will help the youngsters get better ahead of bigger tasks ahead.
Under the deal the Championship side will formulate a 12-month programme on coaching, fitness and professional development of coaches to enhance and professionalise the training programme at the Academy, while TFA coaches will also visit the academy of the English club, and a handful of promising players from the Indian academy will have the opportunity to train with the Sheffield club.
I feel it is a very good step by the Tata Football Academy management as I myself had visited Sheffield United FC in March 2009 and had seen their administration, facilities and plans to grow as a club. It looked pretty impressive to me for a club which only plays Championship football. But Sheffield United are a prime example of a second tier club sometimes being potentially a better partner for a developing country like India rather then a big European club side.
Vice president of Tata Steel, which sponsor and run TFA, Sanjiv Paul, said: "Tata Football Academy, the first professional football academy of the country, has rendered yeoman services to the cause of Indian football for the last 23 years. The national football team and all A Division clubs have a large presence of TFA cadets."
"The tie-up with Sheffield United Football Club will open a new chapter in offering advanced professional training for the cadets of TFA and give them an opportunity to expose them to professional football. We look forward to the tie-up as a beginning to a new phase where we hope that our cadets will raise the bar in Indian football and hopefully improve its world ranking.”
For the Tata Football Academy, founded in 1987, this is the first kind of a partnership with an European club. Over the last few years especially English Premier League clubs have shown interest to partner with TFA, but no partnership of any form was signed though initial talks had been held.
For those who don't know Sheffield United FC they will be surprised to learn that this isn't the first foreign partnership signed by the South Yorkshire based club. Actually the Blades, the nickname of the club, own foreign teams and have numerous partnerships in place. Sheffield United own the Chengdu Blades in China and Hungary's Ferencváros Budapest; while the Blades also have partnerships with Central Coast Mariners of Australia, White Star Woluwé of Belgium and Brazil's Sao Paolo FC.