The Indian football official was speaking at the official launch of the I-League in the capital on Tuesday…
The 10th edition of the Hero I-League was officially launched in New Delhi on Tuesday in the presence of All India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary Kushal Das and the league’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sunando Dhar.
Speaking at the event Das said 2016 had been a good year for Indian football and also took the opportunity to highlight some of the key achievements and efforts of the AIFF.
“2016 has been a good year for Indian football. The Indian National Team’s ranking reached a high, Bengaluru FC became the first Indian team to qualify for the AFC Cup final, India were awarded the Developing Member Association of the Year award by the AFC, the grassroots programme has spread to thirteen states and this year it will spread to eighteen.
“Also pleasing is the increase in the number of teams in the leagues. The U16 league, which had 38 teams last year, has gone up to 55 teams. The U18 league, which had 28 teams last year, has gone up to 36 teams. That is a significant increase and the duration of the leagues has also increased dramatically.
“Even as far as the coach education programme is concerned, we’re doing very well. We have increased the number of licensed coaches significantly. I understand that we have nearly 4,000 licensed coaches, including 112 A-License coaches. That is a significant increase that happened in the last 3-4 years thanks to our revamping of the programme.
“I’m glad to announce that next year, we will introduce the U13 league. It will set up a nice pathway for players as we have a grassroots programme, then the U13 league, the U16 league – which will be U15 from next year, the U18 league and the senior league.
“We are doing our best to strengthen the base of the football pyramid in India. We realize that a lot of work is to be done at the top of the pyramid as well and we will work for it. But we can certainly say that Indian football is on the upsurge,” he said.
Das also reiterated that the I-League remains India’s premier league. “As of now, I-League is the tournament where the champions go on to play in the AFC Cup and the AFC Champions League. So currently, I-League is the premier league.
“We have proposed a roadmap for Indian football, when it come into action, we don’t know yet. We will only do it after consulting all the stakeholders and it will be for the benefit of Indian football,” he commented.
India is set to host the FIFA u-17 World Cup next year and Das closed off by identifying the world tournament as a potential ‘game-changer’ for the growth of football in India.
Photo Courtesy: AIFF Media
Report by Khel Now-Content Editor Mrunal Nakashe. A sports buff, he’s also a foreign policy enthusiast and keen North Korea watcher. Mrunal loves gaming, reading, traveling and is a self-confessed Football Manager addict.