GLOBAL. La Masia, Clairfontaine and the Arsenal Academy. Names that are synonymous with churning out young footballing talent in an almost conveyor-belt-like manner. Football is a sport for the masses, a sport that accomplishes many things both on and off the field, primarily due to the footballnomics behind the industry.

What about less marketed sports? How do individuals manage to break rank and file, making themselves noticed amongst the throng of people who are just as hungry and passionate about their sport? In my opinion, it takes a momentous grassroots initiative that both inspires and pushes individuals into new circumstances where they have to adapt and become stronger to show their true quality and ability to become champions.

When I say grassroots, it is more than simply setting up a formal structure (such as the football schools mentioned above) where only the cream of the crop are able to make careers from their craft. Sometimes, true talent is found on accident from a simple idea, which may not have intended to produce true talent in the first place.

A prime example of this is my close friend, Kareem Rosser, who has, in his own way, made an indelible mark on the game of polo through the Work To Ride programme. Kareem was born into a world that many of us only hear in stories: a world riddled with drugs and violence where youths often do not have the opportunity to escape. A program called Work To Ride, started by an American lady in Philadelphia where Kareem lived, picked up Kareem and he joined the ranks as one of the first few beneficiaries of the program. Hiner wanted to give troubled youths the opportunity to escape the streets through horses. The deal was that the youths had to maintain a C grade average in school and do daily chores in exchange for riding lessons.

Eventually, the youths from Work To Ride fielded the first all African-American polo team who may have started out losing their first few games by huge scorelines but, as all fairytale stories go, eventually won the 2011 Interscholastic Championship which has traditionally been put together for school level polo players in the United States. It was from the Work To Ride experience that Kareem eventually went on to become part of Team USA and is one of the most precocious talents in United States polo.

The reason why I mention Kareem is that I believe his story need not be an isolated incident. Take Ryo Miyaichi, discovered at a high school game and now playing for FC Arsenal. I am convinced that championship-winning talent need not necessarily be found in formal settings. Non-traditional means, be it through the setting up of a charitable initiative or perhaps even watching high school games, can recruit talents beyond the elite sports academies. No matter what the context, keep your eyes peeled, because the next Usain Bolt may be right around the corner.