Venky’s to bring Blackburn Rover’s first team to India on July 23

Blackburn Rovers players will play alongside Indian boys by dividing themselves among the final eight teams from the four cities.

July 07, 2011 4:39 IST | India Infoline News Service

Venkateshwara Hatcheries Group (Venky’s), the Indian owners of the Blackburn Rovers Football Club, will bring the first team to India on July 23. The star players of Blackburn Rovers will participate in the finals of a four city mini-tournament for under-16 boys. To be held in Goa, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune, the football mini-tournament will see its finals happen on July 23rd in Pune. Blackburn Rovers players will play alongside Indian boys by dividing themselves among the final eight teams from the four cities. Notably, Blackburn Rovers is the first ever English Premier League team to play in India.

Announcing the tournament details,  B. Balaji Rao, Whole Time Director, Venkateshwara Hatcheries Group (Venky’s), said, “The Company is committed to elevating footballing standards in India. This event is an attempt to develop football at the grassroot levels and create opportunities for young Indian footballers. 

We firmly believe that given the right training and opportunity, it is a matter of time before the next Rover’s star will come from India. Exposing youngsters to the first team of Blackburn Rovers Football Club is merely a first step in this direction. The company has larger plans which it will disclose very shortly.”

On Blackburn Rovers first ever visit to India, Venky’s is organizing a 4-city football mini-tournament for under-16 boys at Goa, Mumbai, Kolkata and Pune.  The tournament is open to registered institutions, schools, academies and clubs with under-16 teams. 

Qualifying matches will happen in each of the four cities, and the winners of the qualifiers will travel to Pune for the final matches on July 23. The qualifying matches will be held in Goa on 8-9 July, Mumbai on 11-12 July, Kolkata on 16-17 July and Pune on 21-22 July.

Additionally, during the regional rounds, football scouts from Venky’s will choose 15 boys who will be put through a short training session. Ten boys out of these will be selected to form a second team from the city. Thereby, a total of two teams from each city will go to the final matches in Pune on 23rd July.

The Pune finals will give budding youngsters a chance to play alongside Blackburn Rovers players. 16 Rovers players will divide themselves into the eight finalist teams and play in their final matches. Youngsters will get to play alongside the likes of Chris Samba, Paul Robinson, David Dunn, Brett Emerton, David Hoilett, Jason Roberts, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Michel Salgado, Martin Olsson, Steven Nzonzi  and Ryan Nelsen.

In a once in a lifetime opportunity, the finals will also be attended by Blackburn Rovers scouts who will choose two boys for a 2-week training at the Blackburn Rovers Academy in Brockhall in United Kingdom.

“Youth following works both ways. One way of developing footballing standards is by gathering mass following for Blackburn Rovers in India. Following leads to aspirations and elevation of standards, and we want to make Rovers popular in India. It is our appeal to the Indian youth to come forward and reach out to Blackburn Rovers team and aspire to play alongside them very soon,” added  Rao.

Notably, Venky's became the first Indian concern to own a Premier League side when they took over the Blackburn Rovers Football Club in November 2010. Blackburn Rovers, formed in 1875, have been champions of England three times, the last occasion in 1995. With this takeover, Venky’s plans to add a huge Indian and Asian fan base to the Rovers growing fan following.

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