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Prez Kalyan Chaubey on AIFF reform, youth football, Stimac's future

Published at :September 9, 2022 at 12:09 AM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : AIFF Media)

Uttiyo Sarkar

The new boss of Indian football's apex body interacted with the media in Kolkata on Friday.

The newly-elected All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Kalyan Chaubey has a number of vital challenges ahead. The ex-India goalkeeper knows the job will not be easy and the road ahead is long and hard. Chaubey interacted with the press for the first time since being elected president in Kolkata on Thursday.

Chaubey's opening statement

In his opening statement, the AIFF president praised his fellow post holders in the AIFF. He said, “ Everyone should know that the state government who has supported Indian football, Odisha is among the top ones. They have helped give a strong support to the India U-20 side for for the SAFF Championship. This will also be given to the U-17 women’s team for the World Cup.

“Before the elections, there was a case going on in the Supreme Court for 19 months. There were questions raised form 2017 onwards. So, it’s understandable that things have operated with problems in recent years. But, we will try that using the mixed experience of this committee, we can do the best for the development of football,” he asserted.

ISL and other tournaments' future

When asked if the Indian Super League (ISL) can become an open league in the near future, Kalyan Chaubey stated, “After the elections, we have held discussions with FSDL and the ISL representatives to have a meeting in the near future. We’ll sit down with them to discuss this. This is an important topic and even about the future of the ISL and I-League as well. I think we can give a joint statement on this after having discussions with them.”

Kalyan Chaubey. (Courtesy: AIFF)

The president also gave an exciting update on the future of tournaments like the Super Cup.  “The tournaments that Indian footballers have grown up watching, we will revive them. Not just the Federation Cup, but we plan on announcing in the next 100 days that the junior level tournaments, the U-21 Championship and the Santosh Trophy to be brought back at a major level.”

Future plans for Indian coaches

Kalyan Chaubey also detailed how the Indian coaches will get more opportunities going forward. This includes plans to improve the grassroots level using the government schools. He explained, “There shouldn't be questions about why the coach should come from Spain or Brazil. We should question that why can’t our coaches go to Spain or Argentina. I want our coaches, referees can go overseas to make us proud. Then we want to slowly send the players to foreign countries. That’s why the FIFA roadmap, ISL future roadmap have gone on. We have contacted the Indian coaches and we will keep our promises to them. In 16 lakh Government schools in India, there are 25-26 crores of children studying. We want to develop grounds there, so we can have 16 lakh football grounds. FIFA wants us to develop footballers from classes 1-6.

“Parents will be more satisfied to see their children in school than in academies. We want to send AIFF licensed coaches to the schools to help improve the grassroots level. When you help create the basics from the age of 6-12, then from the age of 13-18 they will play in the youth level for match exposure. We want to include football into a school syllabus. If China can be ahead of us in football, if a Chinese child can play such good football, then why can’t an Arunachal Pradesh child do the same as they’re sharing the border? India is a large country with 140 crores population. There is question that in such a major population, why can’t 11 quality players come? But, the question should be that are the 140 crores playing football? We need to increase the quantity of children playing football,” he added.

Reforming the AIFF

The president also revealed the wrongdoings that happened in the AIFF in the last few years, stating, “When we did a post-mortem over the AiFF dealings in the 19 months, then we saw that ₹16 lakhs were paid for an astrologer and a further ₹3 cores was also misused. It’s because of this misuse of funds that the sports ministry has decreased the money they send. The Indian government is trying their best to improve football in India. If they didn’t help, then FIFA wouldn’t have taken off their ban.”

The AIFF's new Executive Committee. (Courtesy: AIFF)

The AIFF executive committee includes players like IM Vijayan and Shabbir Ali. Speaking on their roles and that of the executive committee, Kalyan Chaubey revealed: “In the past regime, you can see that someone in the AIFF is also associated with an academy. We can’t have that malpractice and someone associated with the academy can’t push their players into the team. Shabbir Ali and IM Vijayan are part of a technical team that will hold a meeting soon that will decide about how the selection procedure, the scouting, the coach’s contract situation and how the coaches should operate. Hopefully, this committee will help make decisions that benefit Indian football.”

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Focus on club or national development?

The president also gave an interesting answer upon being questioned on if AIFF will focus on the improvement of club football or the national side. He explained, “ “When you think about the club football and national football scene - If you think about a bullock cart, then you know that both the wheels will have to be in motion equally. So for the development of Indian football, both the club football and national football scene have to be like wheels in a rhythm. Only four people here can’t speak about the future of every single association and Indian footballer here.

“How the development plan will be for Andaman or Lakshadweep will be decided by their association. The 35 member associations will have to submit their own development plans, which will be checked by us. The Odisha, Arunachal, and Manipur state associations have called us to speak with them. After the AIFF accepts the development plan, the state associations will speak with their government on how that can be executed,” he added.

Chaubey also clarified that the AIFF can’t make changes to the ISL structure as long as the MOU is in place. He said, “The ISL agreement has to be honoured for the period when it is valid, before we can discuss the promotion/relegation thing. There is a tenure until December 2024. This body will decide how we can change things before that tenure or after it is agreed to its best.”

Igor Stimac future

He also gave a short answer on the future of Igor Stimac as the India national team manager, stating: “The technical committee will decide on who will be the India manager and if Igor Stimac will be extended. We will also speak about how India can play more games in the FIFA windows.”

Plans for development of women's football

Finally, he spoke about how the women’s football scene will be developed by the AIFF and future plans for improving its structure. Kalyan Chaubey said, “The U-17 Women’s World Cup is prepared for a whole lot and not just the 15 days it takes place. We will discuss with the local organizing committee’s team to get mutual cooperation on how the U-17 World Cup can be perfectly done. We will also try to promote the U-17 World Cup. The government has announced that in 40 places, the female footballers will go to promote the U-17 World Cup and help spread the message that it is taking place and play 40 matches too.

“We are going to create a U-17 Football League for the female footballers. We’re also trying to improve the IWL and to create a minimum salary cap for the players. We want to decrease the gap in male and female footballers' salaries. We're also trying to create an honorium which will help women be equal to men’s football. We will try that women’s football is in a better shape than it is today,” he concluded.