Supported by Indian company UniLazer Ventures, the club will assist with putting structures in place to ensure the further development of the game in the subcontinent by unearthing and coaching players with a view to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup taking place in India in 2017. The long-term objective is the participation of the Indian national team at the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
“TSG are the ideal partners to approach and realise these goals on a long-term basis," said Thomas Richter, Hoffenheim’s director of sales, communication and internationalisation. “This type of co-operation - to develop children and young players - fits perfectly with our philosophy. We can learn a lot from one another, both on and off the pitch.”
The hope is to provide quality infrastructure in youth football in a country with some 1.2 billion inhabitants. The initiative will begin with a talent viewing at over 1,000 Indian schools in 50 cities, and from half a million children that are expected to take part, 30 will be chosen to travel to Germany to attend the Hoffenheim academy. There they will receive coaching as well as further academic education and will be accompanied by the club’s talent scouts and advisors. Journeys to India to optimise youth coaching in the country itself are also planned.
“We’re delighted to be able to use our excellent expertise in order to support a long-term and meaningful project such as this,” added 1899 chairman Peter Rettig. “It is another step on our road to internationalising the TSG 1899 Hoffenheim brand.”
Hoffenheim’s connection to India can be traced back to the final weeks of the 2013/14 season, when the Sinsheim outfit paid the country a visit. A highlight of their eight-day trip was a 3-0 friendly win against a Mizoram XI that drew a TV audience of 14 million.
Relive the highlights of Hoffenheim's visit to India below courtesy of the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: