New Delhi, Dec 8 : The day is not far when top international football clubs such as Real Madrid, Manchester United and FC Barcelona have presence in India, feels Paul Shipwright, head of English club Arsenal's 'Soccer School' initiative.
Shipwright is currently in India to promote the fourth edition of 'Soccer Stars' starting Dec 14, a joint initiative by Tata Tea and Arsenal.
He said there is no dearth of talent in India and if players get the required exposure, the country will start performing at the world stage. India is 142nd in the latest FIFA rankings.
"The talent in this country of 1.2 billlion people is enormous," Shipwright said Wednesday.
"The players are desperate to learn. But the only reason they are lagging behind is they do not get access to world class competitive challenge. The budding players do not get enough top-level match practice.
"My belief is that even if the young guys are trained under an Arsenal coach, they have to have match practice at the end of the day.
"The greatest challenge in India would be to get the structure right," he said.
Arsenal has 'Soccer Schools', which is an initiative of the club to promote football, in 23 countries and nine of them are in Asia.
When asked about the club's intentions to open an academy in India, Shipwright said: "You will very soon see set ups of major clubs in this country. The discussions are on in the Arsenal on a setting up of a school here but I cannot give you a date when it will happen."
The Arsenal man emphasised the importance of corporates like Tata Tea taking interest in the game and promoting it across the country.
The fourth edition of 'Arsenal Tata Tea Soccer Stars' will be played in 15 cities, reaching out to seven lakh children between the age of 10-15. The tournament is based on an intercity format and the winners of all 15 regions will fight it out in the super finals. The players will be trained under Arsenal coaches during the course of the tournament and the best 16 will represent India at the Arsenal International Soccer Festival in London next year.(IANS)