The representatives also had a meeting with national team head coach Igor Stimac.

The FIFA-AFC delegation, currently in India on a three-day visit to have dialogues with different stakeholders on development and way forward for Indian football, had yet another hectic day on Thursday, September 29, 2022.

On the concluding day of the visit on Friday, September 30, 2022, the delegation is set to call upon the honourable Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs, Shri Anurag Thakur. They will also meet Secretary, Sports, MYAS.

In a series of meetings held since morning, the delegation made utmost efforts to gauge the practical problems the Indian football is facing and had discussions that evolved around the strategies to meet the challenges ahead and ways and means to overcome them.

The delegation consists of Mr Nodar Akhalkatsi, Director, Strategic Projects & MA Governance, FIFA, Ms Sarah Solemale, Senior MA Governance Service Manager, FIFA, Mr Allessandro Gramagila, Strategic Development Manager, FIFA and Mr Sonam Jigmi, Senior Manager, South Asia, MA Division, AFC.

The All India Football Federation Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran remained engaged in all the meetings organised for the FIFA-AFC delegation.

The delegation’s long day started with a meeting with the representatives of FSDL, the marketing partners of the AIFF, followed by extensive discussions with members of some of the ISL and I-League clubs. Once having gone through the various aspects and problems of club football, the delegation then sat down with the National Head Coach Igor Stimac and had an extensive conversation with the Croatian. The last but not the least, the FIFA-AFC delegation ended their day with a meeting with a group of senior journalists, who shared their experience on Indian football.

Later, Mr Nodar Akhalkatsi said: “Our main objective is to focus on the strategic roadmap that needs to be done by the end of this year. We have gathered all the information and recommendations from various stakeholders and will analyse all the facts given to us to come to a conclusion. Our main reason to come here was to start the process of the development of the strategic road map.

“It is going to be a complex, yet comprehensive one. We know it is a long process with several milestones to be achieved. Our main area of focus is the professional sector in Indian Football which needs to be fulfilled. We also having a deep look at grassroots development which we want to evaluate.”

Mr Akhalkatsi further said: “FIFA will support AIFF in the process ahead and we have observed there is willingness and readiness on both sides which is of utmost importance. We want to work together with all the contributions of the stakeholders involved.”

The AIFF Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran said: “There are lot of opportunities laced with challenges ahead but we are working together with FIFA, AFC, our domestic partners, the stakeholders and the Government of India to build a road map which will serve for the betterment of Indian Football. Once the roadmap is ready, it will reflect on our work. We want something on the pitch, which includes realistic goals and achievable objectives. We are collaborating with institutions as well as individuals, who can help us for the overall growth. Success will be defined when we work together. I believe in thinking out of the box and if there is a will there is always a way.”

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