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Overseas academy enjoys tournament success

14 March 2016

A youth football academy in India, managed by Sheffield United, has tasted major tournament success.

The Tata Football Academy (TFA) in Jamshedpur, in which Blades are contracted to assist its development as football emerges as a significant sport in India, won the 120th edition of the IFA Under-19 Shield by beating the AIFF Elite Academy - the Indian Under-18s side - in the final in Kolkata.

The major achievement follows the team finishing as runners-up in the IFA Under-18 League, narrowly missing out to the Elite Academy in the play-off final.

Both competitions feature teams from across India - some backed by expertise from Premier League and Championship clubs, as well as Crystal Palace U19s, and Frenz Utd of Malaysia, who were both invited to participate.

Headed by SUFC International Academy Manager, Lee Walshaw, the academy mirrors the Blades' current youth set-up back home, which is based at the SteelPhalt Academy in Shirecliffe and has produced a crop of starlets who have gone on to success in the English game.

The aim is to help the Tata Academy to develop youngsters to go on to play in the Indian Super League and International levels.

United are also helping the Tata Academy's coaching staff improve coaching methods, develop knowledge of the game, and aid India's hopes to become a football superpower.

As well as conventional coaching, strength and conditioning, psychology, nutrition, physiotherapy and GK specialists have also visited India as part of the project.

United coaching staff travel to India for up to five weeks at a time to provide coaching and training strategies for long-term football development in Jamshedpur.

It has also seen players from the Tata Steel Academy visit Sheffield, with several hot prospects now plying their trade professionally in the Indian Super League such as Robin Singh and Narayan Das, both of whom represent the Indian national team.

Lee Walshaw, International Academy Manager at Sheffield United, said: "I've been visiting the TFA for 5 years now building relationships, recruiting players, increasing professionalism and implementing processes and schedules which are now starting to bear fruit.

"Seeing the effect that Sheffield United's involvement has had on the Tata Football Academy, both on and off the pitch, has been immensely rewarding.

"We hope that this is just the start for the academy and its success. We want to help the Tata Football Academy, and the wider Indian game, to develop the nation into a real football superpower.

"I'm hoping that our expertise can only further enhance the Tata Academy's reputation - and trophy cabinet - in the coming years."

Dave McCarthy, Operations Director at Sheffield United, said: "Sheffield United is extremely proud of the academy's success over in India.

"It's testament to the hard work of Lee and everyone else employed by Sheffield United who have been involved, that they have now gone and won a major tournament, and come runners-up in another. Hopefully this is the start of something special for the Tata Football Academy and for Indian football as a whole."

For more information on the Tata Football Academy and Sheffield United's involvement, visit

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