Football Delhi made history this week by announcing India’s First Virtual Football Talent Hunt. But is the idea of a virtual football trial feasible?
Football Delhi (the governing body of football in Delhi) has recently announced the Football Delhi Young Stars Hunt, India’s first virtual football skill contest, that would enable participants (ages 6 to 17, boys and girls) to showcase their football talent and stand a chance to win Rs 2.5 lakh worth of cash prizes.
Amenity Odisha FC Soccer School has also offered scholarships worth Rs 28 lakh for winning candidates to help them undertake professional football training while continuing their formal education.
The talent hunt has been a regular feature of the Delhi body, wherein youngsters from different parts of the city participate hoping to get a nod at the senior levels and build a career in football in the senior levels.
The competition is open to all students, from age 6 to 17, who either have a domicile in Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad or study in schools in these cities. In order to participate, students can visit http://www.footballdelhitalenthunt.com/.
The contest would enable students to upload their skill videos from the comfort of their home to the contest portal where they will be featured and can be voted on. It would help discover hidden talent from the by lanes to posh localities of Delhi–NCR region and help them get recognition and opportunities, said a statement by Football Delhi.
Registration starts from 5 December 2020. The competition will be held in two rounds:
Round 1: The students will upload their videos of the prescribed skills onto the portal. The portal will feature these videos where others can vote and share. Top performers, based on the number of votes and feedback by experienced coaches, will be shortlisted for Round 2.
Round 2: The shortlisted students will have to showcase advanced football skills and the judges will choose the winners who will win cash prizes and scholarships.
The Delhi Football Association will be providing an e-certificate along with expert feedback to each student to motivate them towards their football journey and improve their skills.
“Corona has been detrimental for sports this year but we cannot let the pandemic deprive our children of the opportunities that they deserve. This talent hunt would serve as a unique platform for our children”, says Shaji Prabhakaran, former FIFA South Central Asia Development Officer and currently the president of the Delhi Football Association.
“This is a fantastic opportunity. During a pandemic this is a good way to unearth football talent and take the sport forward in India. Well done Football Delhi”. says Sunil Chhetri, captain of the Indian Football Team
“This is an exciting opportunity for boys like us”, says Sparsh, a 12-year-old student, who plays for his school team in Sanskriti School. “We thought of enrolling him to the talent hunt this year, but with this pandemic we were worried that he would not be able to participate”, says Harish Chautala, Sparsh’s father.
“With it being virtual this year, we can finally send my child to this year’s talent hunt”, he adds.
However, there are critics to this as well. “Football is something we need to play on the ground and judge the talent after that. How can we do this virtually?”, says T. Balaram, a former footballer.
“You need to judge a child’s talent by looking at his passing, his on ground awareness and ability to read a game”, he says. “How can you judge him just by seeing whether he can bounce the football on his feet or not?”, he questions.
Sameer Das (name changed), another former national footballer echoes this thought. “If sport and training can resume everywhere else in the world, then why should Delhi be kept in the dark?”, he adds.
“With the changing situation around the world due to the pandemic, we decided to go digital this year. To be frank we do not have the resources to sponsor a real life talent hunt as our finances had been hit during the pandemic”, says an official from Football Delhi.
“In fact, we are doing this just so that youngsters across the city do not feel that he/she has missed out on a big opportunity. We will be back again stronger next year”, he concludes.