All India Football Federation on Thursday signed an agreement with Brazillian top division side Atletico Paranaense for a technical cooperation which will allow the national Under-17 team to train in the South American club.
The initiative was part of the AIFF's efforts to build a strong team for the 2017 FIFA World Cup which the country is hosting. "It is basically a technical contract. For a minimum 30 days in a year, our boys will train at their academy in Brazil and also take part in tournament there. At the same time, their boys will come on an exchange tour and they will also play in some tournaments here," AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said after signing the agreement.
"The present contract runs till December 2015 and we would love to extend it on a long term basis. We are starting an Under-15 league next year and the boys from Brazil may take part in this," he said.
The partnership will also include exchange of knowledge among coaches, technical knowhow about training, participation of AIFF youth teams at Atletico Paranaense Academy in Brazil.
Das said that the partnership with Atletico Paranaense was just the beginning and the AIFF was planning to have such agreements with clubs in European and Asian countries.
"This idea was floated by our Technical Director Robert Baan who envisaged the U-17 national squad's need to play in various continents as they prepare for the U-17 World Cup," he said.
Atletico Paranaense Vice-President Luis Sallim said that it was a "huge responsibility" for his club. "Besides developing good players we stress on grooming good human beings. Nothing will obstruct us to reach our main goal," he said.
"AIFF will be a very good partner and I challenge that within a year, all in India would be happy about choosing Paranaense as a partner," he added. Atletico Paranaense already has a tie-up with Anglian Medal Hunt for player representation in the Indian Super League and domestic player development.