Goa:Goa is putting its best foot forward in search for its own David Beckham.
About 5,500 school students put on their spikes at the Nehru Stadium on Monday to get selected as a part of Manchester United's talent hunt called Kick Off.
The English club will pick 12 players and two coaches to travel to United Kingdom for training with the Manchester United Soccer School Club.
"The passion of Goan football is well known, we knew that the kids would be very enthusiastic, we suspected that the coaching would be very good, the facilities are good, its manageable," said Dale Hobson, Head of Operations, Manchester United Soccer Schools.
UEFA Champions League winners FC Porto were the first to sign a deal with the All India Football Federation and the Goa Football Association to pick talent from India. Manchester United followed soon and Arsenal, too, has announced a similar initiative.
Brian McClair, Director, Manchester United Youth Academy said, "We'll be going through a series of skill tests that have been benchmarked against the kids that we have in our academy, soccer schools that come to the academy and all the 160 elite boys in the Manchester units academy who've completed the tests."
"We'll be able to access and judge how well they've done in their scores against the best young boys within Manchester."
Manu Talwar, CEO, Mobile Service, Maharashtra & Goa said, "IMG & Bharti got together in the whole pilot project. We are excited with football which is the most popular game in the world. We are supporting that game to create and build a team that can come to international level."
"We have decided to participate in this journey and are committed and sure that India will produce the next Pele or Maradona".
India has sufficient local talent as players like Baichung Bhutia and Sunil Chetri proved during the country's recent Nehru Cup success. Whether initiatives like these help find more such talent remains to be seen.