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Football's popularity has grown in cricket-crazy India despite the national team languishing at 164 in the official FIFA rankings. -File photo

NEW DELHI: Spanish giants Barcelona are setting up a football school in India as they expand their coaching network worldwide with the aim of training 10,000 youngsters in the next three years.

The school in New Delhi, the first of its kind in India, will be managed by the club's training arm FCBEscola and welcome 300 children aged between six and 14, club officials said.

The Delhi school is set to be operational by the end of the year and plans are afoot to expand operations to other cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Goa, Pune and Ahmedabad.

“This is one of our most ambitious projects worldwide,” FCBEscola director Xevi Marce said on Wednesday. “We hope to train 10,000 young footballers in the next three years.

“With this initiative, we will provide the depth and the quality needed to develop coaches and players from a very young age.”

Club official Antonio Claveria, who will be the technical director of the school, had organised a camp for budding footballers in New Delhi in December last year.

“It was a great experience for me to start the Barca India project,” said Claveria.

“I am looking forward to working with talented youngsters on a sustained and regular basis.”

Football's popularity has grown in cricket-crazy India despite the national team languishing at 164 in the official FIFA rankings.

Four football academies supported by FIFA are being built in Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi, while English Premier League sides Liverpool and Manchester United organise regular camps for juniors.

Indian poultry firm Venky's owns the English club Blackburn Rovers, which was relegated from the Premier League this year.

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