FIFA, AIFF join hands with WIFA on state development

The FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and AIFF (All India Football Federation) delegates, who were in the city for AIFF Strategic Plan for the development of football in the states, concluded their visit with an inter-action with Media Persons at the Cooperage ground on Sunday.

Dr Shaji Prabhakaran, Regional Development Officer for FIFA in South and Central Asia, FIFA Development Officer Vincent Subramaniam, AIFF’s I-League, Chief Executive Officer, Sunando Dar, AIFF Technical Director, Scott O’Donnell, WIFA Chief Executive Officer, Henry Menezes, and media persons shared their views and were engaged in a healthy, constructive discussion on how to improve the sport in the state and in the country. This was AIFF initiative under the guidance of FIFA and this programme will be conduct in seven states in the country.

Maharashtra was the third stop for the delegation. They had earlier visited Bengal and Kerala and will next travel to Goa, Delhi, Assam and Mizoram.

Under this project the seven associations would be given one-year time limit to implement the recommendations of this delegation so that they can improve. The delegates will review the progress of the states after three months and they will be given another chance. But, if they are unable to deliver results within the deadline, the AIFF would then select some other state so that they have the opportunity to improve and develop.

The AIFF will also appoint two officials — technical officer and director of operation and management — in each association to oversee of the project.

During their stay in Mumbai the delegates held meetings with all stake-holders, including government officials, clubs officials, former international and national players, visited some football facilities and finally had a discussion with the media.

Prabhakaran was of the belief that the government needs to play a proactive role in promoting football. “It’s the responsibility of the local authorities and the government to promote the sport. But unfortunately the government is still not serious about creating or giving an environment for children to play football,” said Prabhakaran.

Prabhakaran also pointed out that Maharashtra has the right potential to become a major footballing state. “There is great interest of football in many districts of Maharashtra and it’s a great opportunity for the state to strengthen the structure of the sport. In Mumbai so many play football and there are so many initiatives taken up by WIFA and these are good ways to support the sport. It now depends on all stake holders on how to take the game further,” he said. “Things will become even much better if more clubs from other districts, like Nagpur, Kolhapur and Pune are formed,” he added.

Menezes was of the opinion that WIFA has the tag of FIFA and AIFF to make the game bigger in the state. “With the support of FIFA and AIFF we will have the expertise and a monitoring system in place. The perception of the state association will change for the good,”

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