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Monaco’s Keita Balde Points the Spotlight on Migrant Workers In Spain; Expansion of Golden Baby Leagues in India and More (Football Round-up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): Monaco’s Keita Balde provides aid to migrant fruit pickers in Spain | Intend to expand Golden Baby Leagues across country: AIFF | Minerva Academy FC recommended for Rashtriya Khel Protsahan puruskar | FIFPro concerned over too many games as football resumes | Sunil Chhetri wants India in Asia’s Top 10.
Keita Balde of AS Monaco

Keita Balde paid to ensure accommodation in two hotels for 80 migrant workers who were making a living as fruit pickers in Spain.

Like many African immigrants on the lookout for fruit picking jobs in Spain -- Europe’s largest fruit and vegetable exporter -- Ibrahim Ndoye had a tough time in Lleida for 10 days this month with no one willing to rent him a room.

The 42-year-old Senegalese acknowledged that restrictions had come up because of the coronavirus pandemic and the fear that is now prevalent in the minds of people. However, more than the pandemic, he blames racism.

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It was Monaco’s Keita Balde whose intervention in the situation changed Ndoye’s fortunes, temporarily. Ndoye is currently staying with 80 workers at two hotels in Lleida paid for by Balde.

In a conversation with AS, Balde spoke about how he was moved to help those in crisis in whatever ways he could. "When I saw it [the news report about their situation], I cried. I don't even remember the last time I cried, but that day I did,” Balde said. Now, Balde promises more will happen.

"The premises will be rented out and we are going to renovate them. Clean, put in beds and we even have a builder who will make more showers, but bureaucracy is slow," he said.

Golden Baby Leagues to be Expanded

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) organised a webinar for 17 Golden Baby League operators on June 19. The webinar revolved around the Golden Baby Leagues’ handbook for the 2020-21 season.

The Golden Baby Leagues cater to age groups playing U-6 To U-12 football in the country. 21 states saw the play of the league with 100 plus operators featuring over 34,500 registered players.

Sunando Dhar, the CEO of the league said, “AIFF started the Baby League project two years back and in this short span the progress we have seen is promising. We want to keep moving forward and keep expanding across the country. Each one of your roles is important in spreading the love of the game in players aged 6-12.”

“The Baby League will go hand-in-hand with AIFF youth leagues structure already in place beginning from Hero Sub Junior League,” Dhar added in the webinar.

Minerva Academy Recommended for Award

The Punjab government and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) recommended the Minerva Academy Football Club for Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar for this year. The club has been nominated for the ‘identification and nurturing of budding talent’.

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The objective of the award is to encourage and promote involvement of corporates, voluntary organisations and sports control boards, among others, in the further development of sports in the country. The award will have a citation and a trophy but no cash prize.

Ranjit Bajaj, owner and founder of Minerva Academy Football Club said, “I am delighted that Minerva Academy Football Club has been nominated for the prestigious Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar.”

“It is an honour just to be nominated for the prestigious national award, and I hope we will be selected as the deserving recipients of the same.”

The sports ministry has extended the deadline for submitting applications for the national sports awards till June 22 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

FIFPro Concerned About Packed Schedule

FIFPro, the global football players union, is concerned over footballers being asked to play too many matches in short durations and has expressed concern over an increase in injury as the sport resumes following the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a statement on Friday, FIFPro announced that competition organisers ‘have so far failed to introduce safeguards to protect player health during what will be a highly-congested schedule’.

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“Now, since the restart we are seeing a first spike in injuries because of insufficient preparation time and congested match schedules,” a statement added. 

The current season was halted for nearly three months in most European countries due to the outbreak of the virus. Many are now rushing to finish the season by the end of July. 

The conclusion of the Champions League and Europa League is set for August while the 2020-21 season is scheduled around mid-season with national team matches squeezed in between them. 

Next season’s group stage games for the Champions League will be concluded in three months instead of four whereas six rounds of six international matches will be played in Europe during October and November instead of four. 

Chhetri Wants India in Asia's Top 10

Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri says the Indian team should set their sights on a top-10 spot among Asian nations and the youngsters will have to rise to the occasion to make that possible.

Chhetri highlighted that when a group of players lead by example, they inspire their juniors to surpass the standards set by their seniors and help the team up the ante.

"At this stage in Indian football, you want the national team to push for the top 10 spots in Asia. For that to happen it is very important for these youngsters to come through the ranks and produce the results in the senior team," Chhetri said during a live chat with AIFF TV.

The U-16 team on Thursday (June 18) ended up in a tough group for the AFC U-16 Championship 2020 in Bahrain with Korea Republic, Australia and Uzbekistan.This is India's ninth overall and third consecutive qualification into the AFC U-16 Championship. Two teams from the group stage will proceed to the quarterfinals and the four semi finalists will then compete at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2021 in Peru.

"I'm already a big fan of the U-16 team and the Indian Arrows, especially the U-16 team under Bibiano [Fernandes]. They look like a really good unit," Chhetri said.

"They have played some really good football and it's all about continuing the push to improve with every step. These boys would want to do better than the previous batch (that clocked a quarterfinal finish in the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship)," he added. 

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