The officials also spoke about revamping traditional competitions and defining a style of play across national teams.
The roadmap for Indian Football was recently released by the AIFF (All India Football Federation) in the presence of president Kalyan Chaubey and Secretary General Shaji Prabakaran. The road map consists of two major timelines (2026 and 2047) along with the criteria that have to be met alongside the development.
Scouting in India
There are many tournaments held across India and the population of the country is also very huge. Scouting teams cannot be present everywhere so there needs to be a system in place for scouting teams.
The AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey explained the process saying, “In the current Santosh trophy which is being held across six locations and we have told individual state associations to bring in former state players and look for bright talents. This way the scouting gets de-centralised. We have also made an individual scouting team who will also search for talents.”
Indian football currently does not generates huge revenue. The new model has put forward ways to commercialize the sport which can improve the revenue model.
Kalyan Chaubey iterated, “Like other sports in India, we want to make football ‘AatmaNirbhar’ and have its own revenue model which supports players. We do not want a situation where a player plays well but does not have a piece of good equipment to wear. The revenue model is structured in a way that will make football in India prosper and make it AatmaNirbhar.”
Playing style of national team
Kalyan Chaubey also touched upon the need to find the playing style that suits the Indian footballers and hire coaches according to them and not work the other way around, like it has been so far. The newly elected official also explained the factors that are going to be taken into consideration while choosing the style of play.
The 46-year-old mentioned, “Different coaches have a different style and we follow what the coach of the national team says who keep changing. Every country has a certain style of play which varies with climatic conditions, geographies etc. The Africans have a totally different game style compared to ours which we cannot compare. Who would have thought a player like Messi with his body or weight can become a superstar and win a World Cup? So we are trying to figure out in what best ways we can fine-tune our national team performances.”
Role of Arsene Wenger
Ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has been roped in to develop Indian football with the roadmap that has been made. However, not much has been revealed in regards to what capacity the former Arsenal manager will be involved in the sport in India. The AIFF official claimed, “Arsene Wenger’s exact role will be explained in detail in the upcoming days.”
Sports Ministry’s budget allocation
The budget allocation has been decreased by the govt in the past few years for the AIFF. The number has gone down from 30 crores to five crores, a huge decline financially.
Kalyan Chaubey was hopeful of govt helping and said, “We cannot decide what decision the government takes but we will ask them to look into this and increase the budget. Whenever we have approached the govt for any help we haven’t been sent empty-handed. Recently we approached the govt to televise the I-League matches in DD sports so that it reaches every home and they were ready to help us. So whatever help the govt can provide us will be done.”
Big talk with FIFA President
Indian Football President has met FIFA multiple times after being elected recently. Both the parties claim to have had good conversations on the development of Indian football and the role of FIFA in the process.
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The President quipped, “The role of bringing in Arsene Wenger was done after consultation with FIFA and one important talk was regarding the technological aspect. In earlier days, football was played raw with not much data and technology. But now the game has evolved very quickly in terms of medical science and technology. We are lacking in both technology and science. So we have held discussions regarding this with FIFA to bring in a good solution.”
India in FIFA World Cup
The ultimate aim of the draft is to first develop the game and take sport among a large audience rather than focusing on figuring out a ‘cheatcode’ to play in the quadrennial extravaganza. The grassroots will be the main focus along with the improvement in coaching and referring standards.
Former goalkeeper of the Indian national team emphasised, “First, the aim of the project is to involve football among small children and spread it across the masses from villages to cities. We want the people to first take up the game and reach desirable numbers so that many in the future too take up the sport. Not all who play the sport are going to represent the national team but the sport will be spread across huge audiences so that the game develops. If the game develops then the sport will get popular automatically. Also apart from participation the process also involves the development of Indian coaches and refereeing standards which will also develop simultaneously.”
Following leads of Qatar and Morocco
There have been countries in the past like Qatar and Morocco who have qualified for the World Cup with a very less population. India being a large country wasn’t able to capitalize on the population and develop the the game among masses.
Kalyan Chaubey pointed out the importance of participation and said, “We have put in a number (3.5 crores) first to reach out to the grassroots. This doesn’t mean that all these players will be part of the talent pool and are going to identify talents from them. Our goal is to first spread the game to a larger audience. Let us look at the national team squad in the past 20 years where there are 50 players selected out of which 25-30 stay in the set-up for 12 to 15 years. According to me, there are players waiting outside who have enough talent to get into the squad but haven’t been recognized. So for this reason the talent pool should have many players for which large participation is required else only players from three to four states will play in the national team.”
Role of data in Indian football
Shaji Prabhakaran iterated, “As of now, there is no data available but once the infrastructure is in place we will slowly start to collect them. India first needs to create a good talent pool which is lacking currently. Once the talent pool widens we will get to see many players playing for European clubs.”