AIFF, FIFA brainstorm to take Talent Development Scheme forward in India

  • India emerges as a country of choice for FIFA TDS project
  • FIFA delegates are on a 3-day visit to India; will meet top clubs and academies

NEW DELHI: Delegates from the apex body of world football, FIFA, are currently in India for a three-day meeting with the AIFF to help inculcate the Talent Development Scheme (TDS) in the country.

FIFA Delegates, Mr Juerg Nepfer, Head of Technical Development Services, and Mr Chokey Nima, Regional Technical Consultant, Global Football Development, South Asia, met with AIFF President Mr Kalyan Chaubey and Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran on Day 1 of the meet.

A third member of the FIFA Delegation, Mr Ged Roddy, FIFA High Performance Expert is also set to join during the course of the three-day meet, and will be overseeing the project in India.

The TDS is led by FIFA Chief of Global Football Development Mr Arsene Wenger, and aims to help the Member Associations of the world’s apex football governing body fulfil their potential, which will be done by ensuring that every talented player has a chance to be detected and developed. The FIFA Delegates and AIFF representatives are now set to hammer out the details of implementation of the TDS in India, which at later stages, will also see Mr Wenger come to the subcontinent in a bid to assess its development.

AIFF President Mr Kalyan Chaubey kicked-off the proceedings by thanking the delegates from FIFA for coming in to lend their expertise in India.

“I would like to convey our gratitude to the FIFA Delegates for this important visit and engaging in discussions with us for developing the talents of India,” said Mr Chaubey. “The FIFA TDS is a priority project for us in India, and we are eager to utilise the expertise of FIFA and Arsene Wenger to create a bucket of talented footballers in our country. Player development is high on our list of priorities, and the implementation of the FIFA TDS will be key for us to achieve our football potential in line with our Vision 2047.”

AIFF Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran said, “We, at the Federation, are intent on putting in the right structure to achieve our strategic objectives in line with Vision 2047, and to that extent, we have rebooted our Technical Department. It is indeed a momentous occasion that FIFA have come to visit us here in India to implement the Talent Development Scheme, and we are looking forward to working with our elite clubs and academies to put a structured roadmap to develop elite players and reach a stage where we can become a global talent hub in the world.”

The Technical Department has been branched into different verticals – Grassroots, Player Development, Talent Development, Coach Education, Sports Science and Medical, Analytics, and Youth Development.

The FIFA Delegates, after meeting with the AIFF President and Secretary General, had a lengthy discussion with the Federation’s Technical Department. Mr Vincent Subramanian, the Federation’s Chief Technical Officer, discussed the plans under Vision 2047 and Target 2026, and their means of implementation. AIFF Technical Director Mr Syed Sabir Pasha is also set to join the meet on Friday, May 5, after the completion of an ongoing workshop in Kuala Lumpur.

FIFA’s Head of Technical Development Services Mr Juerg Nepfer, on hearing the Federation’s long term plans for the development of football in the country, commended the AIFF on Vision 2047.

“I am immensely thankful to the President and Secretary General for hosting us here in India. The first thing about India is that it is not a country, but more of a continent, so I must really congratulate all of you on coming up with such a detailed analysis in Vision 2047 on how to take football ahead. While 2047 is a long term target and there may be a lot of changes by then, you have also set short term goals like Target 2026, which is a very good sign.”

Speaking about the Talent Development Scheme, and FIFA’s plans for implementing it in India, Mr Nepfer said, “FIFA has always had a special corner for India, and we want to bring the country forward, which will be greatly aided by the TDS. Of course, there are many challenges ahead, but they also present many opportunities. It’s not just about what you want to achieve, but who you want to achieve it with. Clubs, governments, schools, academies, and all other stakeholders need to feel that they are one with the plan, so much so that they all take ownership within their own catchment areas. This is the first time I’m convinced that we can achieve something together.”

Mr Subramanian also apprised the FIFA Delegates of the Technical Department and it’s plans under Vision 2047 and Target 2026, which aims to have at least 3.5 lakh active coaches in India to broadbase the game in the country. Efforts are also being made to have coach instructors in every state across all levels, competitive coaches, and to attain leadership status in coach education with research, and to put coach education in sync with player development.

The Blue Cubs programme is also close to the heart of the Federation as it plans to use the same to identify, promote, and develop elite players in top clubs and academies to groom them for junior and senior international levels at a later stage.

An Elite Grassroots programme has also been planned by the Technical Department, which aims to have 100 million participants under the banner of Vision 2047.

Project Diamond also aims to further develop the elite youth players, once they are identified, with the Federation and clubs working in unison to help the footballers reach a higher level. The said project also plans for a three-tier tournament at the youth level, which will ensure that the players get to play competitive matches all year round. 

The FIFA Delegates will continue to assess the future plans and their implementation strategies with representatives from AIFF. They are also set to meet with representatives from the top clubs and academies across the country during their three-day visit to New Delhi.

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