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Leicester City to let young Thais in on winning ways

Leicester City players celebrate the club's Premier League championship in Bangkok, home of parent King Power.

BANGKOK -- The Thai owner of Premier League-winning club Leicester City has a plan to elevate the quality of soccer in his own country.

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the chairman of Thai duty-free shop operator King Power, on Wednesday said he intends to send 100 promising Thai youngsters to train with the English club in the next 10 years.  

"Leicester's facility is very good," Vichai said at a celebration of Leicester's championship in Bangkok. He also noted the club's expertise on conditioning, which contributed to its shocking victory over the traditional Premiership powerhouses.

The chairman said he wants young Thais to have access to the Leicester environment. He said he plans to send 10 per year over the next decade. The company has already sent 16 -- separate from the planned 100.

Japan's Shinji Okazaki, a forward for Leicester City, shakes hands with King Power Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

The goal is to have the youngsters get acquainted with the life of a professional soccer player, while improving both their on-pitch skills and their English ability. "In the future," Vichai said, "I want the Thai national team to play in the World Cup."

As of May 5, Thailand was ranked 119th according to FIFA -- world soccer's governing body.

Wednesday's victory party was held at a theater in a King Power shopping complex in Bangkok. Leicester's manager and players were on hand, including Japan's Shinji Okazaki.

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