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Arsene Wenger Commits Himself To 'Digging Out' Football Talent In India

Legendary coach Arsene Wenger on Tuesday committed himself to "digging out talent" in India and place the country on world football map, as he inaugurated the FIFA-AIFF academy. Former Arsenal coach Wenger, currently serving as FIFA's chief of global football development, did not give any time frame when India would start producing "great players" but made it known that without proper grassroots development, the country will remain as it is now. "Our project is to identify talent in India, to put the best talent together, give them a good coaching programme, give them a good education and a good level of competition and make them great players," Wenger said.

"Our huge effort is to dig out talent and make them as good as they can be," he said after witnessing the signing of MoU between the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the Odisha government.

Fifty under-14 players -- including 15 from Odisha -- will be selected by the FIFA coaches in the first batch and they will get training at the academy for two years.

Odisha government will take care of the boarding, lodging, accommodation and education of the players, and FIFA will provide the technical know how and the coaches.

FIFA has already recommended Spain's Sergi Amezcua Fontrodona -- who was previously involved with developing football in China as project director -- to be the academy head coach for two years and an Indian will assist him for a few months.

A foreign assistant coach will be appointed in four-five months.

"With such a huge population, the potential in India is huge, for you to be on top of the world. That is what we want to achieve together. How long will it take, I don't know," Wenger said.

"But one thing is for sure, if we don't educate we will be