Multi-dimensional Blue Cubs programme to revolutionise grassroots football, says Shaji Prabhakaran

NEW DELHI: The Federation, on Monday, launched the logo for Blue Cubs, a flagship grassroots programme that aims to establish a robust foundation for Indian Football. It is part of the Strategic Roadmap ‘Vision 2047’, and its target is to engage 35 million children between the ages of 4-12 by 2026 and take the number up to 100 million by 2047.

“Developing grassroots football is one of my personal priorities and I will continue to draw more focus to enlarge the grassroots landscape in India,” said AIFF Secretary General, Dr Shaji Prabhakaran.

The Blue Cubs grassroots programme, which would help in developing the foundation for Blue Tigers, was announced by the AIFF Executive Committee in its meeting held last month. It is thoroughly multi-dimensional with collaborations at multiple levels, including government NGOs, schools, clubs, academies and others.

“We have never had a comprehensive grassroots structure and initiative, and we hope that through Blue Cubs, we will be able to have a robust structure in our system,” Dr Prabhakaran said. “Our National Team players launching the Blue Cubs logo was special and when the programme officially kicks off on the pitch in June, we can expect a very high level of energy and enthusiasm at the bottom of our pyramid.”

Last week, the Federation also announced that June 23, the birth anniversary of Pradip Kumar Banerjee, India’s captain in the 1960 Rome Olympics and popularly known as PK, will henceforth be celebrated as ‘AIFF Grassroots Day’.

“We want more children to take part in the game and the Blue Cubs project in itself will also be another way for us to honour the legend PK Banerjee. It is perfect to celebrate the grassroots day on his birthday because, in this way, we recognise his massive contribution to Indian Football,” said Dr Prabhakaran.

“With the grand success of the AFC Grassroots Day celebrations on May 15, we demonstrated our intent on grassroots football. With record participation — 40,000+ in one day — across India facilitated by our stakeholders, we could witness the energy and interest in the game at a completely different level for the first time. I would like to thank our member associations, clubs, academies, schools and others who have wholeheartedly taken part in the AFC Grassroots Day celebrations to promote and develop grassroots football,” added Dr Prabhakaran.

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