MUMBAI: Former Iranian international Jamshed Nassiri today said that the schools talent hunt he is involved in as head coach has unearthed some players who are now playing in the I-League and Indian Super League.
Without identifying any of these footballers, Nassiri - who has made India his residence after playing for some famous Kolkata football clubs in the 1970s and 1980s - said the national-level schools talent hunt has given a platform for those children who have been untapped through other means.
Mumbai is the 11th stop in the 15-city-wide talent hunt, Star Sports Young Heroes, to identify 16 footballers for a ten-day training stint in Spain.
"In the past through such initiatives we have unearthed talented footballers who are now playing for Delhi Dynamos, Kerala Blasters (both ISL outfits) and for I-League clubs Shilling Lajong and Pune FC, while some others are with the Tata Football Acedemy," said Nassiri.
The Mumbai campaign is to be held tomorrow and on November 8 after which a team will be chosen to take part in the All India Schools finals slated to be held in Kolkata in January prior to identifying the final 16 players for the exposure trip to Spain.
"After they return from Spain it will be upto their parents whether to allow them to continue their pursuit in the game. (But) in India at the age of 14 education takes precedence," he noted when asked about follow-up action.
Nassiri wanted all eight ISL franchise outfits to set up residential football academies from which they can develop top-class young footballers to later induct into own ISL senior teams.
"India were among the top footballing nations in Asia when I was a young footballer representing Iran. We should bring back the glory days of Indian football," he said.
He also mentioned that tiny Himalayan Kingdom Nepal - which once was a punching bag in the game - has set up four football academies in four corners of the tiny country.
The result is India, of late, is finding it difficult to win against them and even Maldives in regional competitions, according to the Iranian.