Football’s next superstar could be found in Mumbai when Crystal Palace hold trials next month.
The club has joined forces with Mumbai City FC to give one lucky winner the chance to train with academy players back at Selhurst Park.
“Play for Palace” trials take place on Thursday December 11 with the 12 most gifted 16-19 year olds being asked to play at the Barclays Premier League Live event in December. Thousands of spectators will be at the event including former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler and Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.
One winner will then be chosen to train with the club’s academy, whose alumni feature England internationals Nathaniel Clyne and Wilfred Zaha .
Mark Bright, club ambassador and scorer of more than 100 goals for the club said: “We know cricket is the number one sport in India, but football is global and it would be great to see an Indian-born player in the Premier League one day. They would become an idol and an inspiration”.
The trial is part of Palace’s long-term initiative to build lasting relationships in Mumbai whilst improving footballing standards in the region. Football continues to grow in the country since the formation of Indian Super League in October 2013. Mumbai City FC has attracted former England midfielder, Peter Reid as coach and “invincible” Freddie Ljunberg.
Palace chief executive Phil Alexander said: “We are very excited to be going to India to show ourselves to a new army of fans. The Premier League is booming in India and it’s a great chance for us to extend the club’s reach”.
However British Asian participation in football remains low. There are currently only three players of south Asian descent playing in the Premier League, Neil Taylor of Swansea City and brothers Adil and Samir Nabi at West Bromwich Albion.
Crystal Palace have never fielded a player from south Asia. The Eagles only representation from the continent came from China in the form of Fan Zhiyi and Sun Jihai. The pair made a combined 125 appearances for the club, scoring 8 goals.