We are the most qualified state for grass roots: Henry Menezes, CEO, WIFA

Henry Menezes (WIFA CEO)

The Western India Football Association led the way in Maharashtra on Women’s Day with one of the biggest initiatives for young girls as Women’s Day was celebrated across the state on football fields.

The WIFA have been at the thick of some brilliant grass root initiatives in recent times and have been rightly awarded as the Best Grass Root Program by AIFF last year.

The man who has been at the heart of it, ex-Indian goalkeeper Henry Menezes spoke to us at length on the importance of Women’s Day, the professionalism and seriousness at developing the grass roots portrayed by WIFA and his strong will to continue to toil towards it.

1. You have been celebrating Women’s Week. What is your take on the event?

A: We are celebrating Women’s Week on the eve of the International Women’s Day all over the state in districts like Satara, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Jalgaon etc. Like here in Mumbai, we have had a large number of girls coming out on the field and playing and have been brilliantly backed by their parents.

2. What is the vision behind this initiative?

A: Today everyone is talking about equality and we understand its importance. We want to bridge the gap between men and women in terms of football and it has become really narrow over the years. In fact the women’s team ranks much higher in the world compared to the men. So we want these young girls and their parents to look at football a lot more seriously.

3. Can you tell us about the other grass root programs that WIFA have been conducting?

A: We have appointed a State Grass Root Leader and will be appointing over 300 grass root leaders across the state with three grass root leaders taking care of each district. We have also conducted plenty of youth development programs as well. Apart from this, we also have D License for coaches. Every month we have a D License program and many of them are employed. There has been a very positive change in recent years where a lot of schools are only looking at licensed coaches for coaching their kids. We are very proud to say that we are the most qualified state for grass roots.

4. WIFA was voted as the Best Grass Root Program by the AIFF. How do you feel about this achievement?

A: It is extremely encouraging when your good work is rewarded. We have been working very hard on the grass root programs and we are very happy when our efforts are appreciated like this. We want to continue our good work and keep producing some of the finest players for the country.

5. What is the most important aspect while developing a kid?

A: The parents’ support is very important. So we like to involve them into the grass root programs so that the kids enjoy themselves. At this level it is more important to enjoy and feel secure and the parents’ support and their presence help the kid to a large extent.

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