Once regarded as the perfect platform for promising talent in the country, the tournament has, in the last few years, lost its sheen and failed to act as a launch pad for future generation of stars.

"The Subroto Cup organizers have written to all I-League clubs to help them scout talent so that the young footballers participating in the tournament get the much-needed exposure at the senior level," Wing Commander VN Singh, one of the tournament organizers, at the launch of Subroto Cup, said.

The organizers are also working hard to tackle age frauds which has marred the image of the prestigious tournament. "We have a medical team where doctors are conducting X-rays, if we find something wrong, we will conduct bone-test. We are very strict with that," Singh said.

There are talks that the organisers want the event to be covered under the anti-doping agency (NADA). "Though we haven't got into anti-doping measurement, but in near future we could. From next year, we may tie up with National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA)," said Air Marshal HB Rajaram, the Officer in-charge of Administration.

There were allegations in the past of teams sending over-aged players to the tournament. Meanwhile, the 54th edition of the Subroto Cup gets bigger this year with a total of 81 teams participating in the tournament, including first timers Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshwadeep.

The competition will witness nine more teams than last year, which would be vying for three titles - Under-14, Under-17 boys and U-17 girls - at the B R Ambedkar Stadium.

The centre of attraction this year would be Ukrainian side Troeshchina, which won the UNICEF Cup in Spain this year, and start as favourites. The side comprises under-privileged children adopted by the Centre of Physical Health for Everybody in Ukraine.

The other five foreign teams would be from Oman, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The inauguration ceremony will take place on September 27 and three finals are scheduled on October 11 (Boys U-14), October 17 (Girls U-17) and October 19 (Boys U-17), which will be telecast live on Doordarshan.

The sponsor Adidas has decided to send 10 most promising young talents to a European football club for training as a part of Generation Adidas Programme.


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