FIFA to help empower state bodies for under-17 World Cup: AIFF

Kolkata, (IANS) In a bid to revamp footballing structure in the country keeping in mind the under-17 World Cup, the All India Football Federation on Monday said it would along with FIFA empower the six selected state associations further.

The big event is slated to be staged in six venues – Kochi, Delhi, Mumbai, Guwahati, Goa and Kolkata.

Called the “Pilot Project for the Development of State Associations”, the initiative involves improving the infrastructure and development of the game in various parts of India so that the country is ready for the under-17 FIFA World Cup in 2017.

“Development of the game is not possible without developing it in the states. The important initiative will also help enhance the capacity of World Cup venues and FIFA has come forward to help us,” AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said in a press conference here.

“For each state, we will appoint a technical director and director of operations and marketing to help develop the game,” he said.

Das confirmed that AIFF will hand-pick candidates for the posts and the salaries will be jointly paid by FIFA and the national body.

Das also proposed starting an under-15 league in the states.

“Our initial focus will be to have an under-15 league in the states, whereas in the long term, we will focus on grassroots and youth development that will significantly change the face of Indian football.”

FIFA development officer Shaji Prabhakaran, however, warned that if some state was unable to fulfil the demands after six months even with the support that will be given, then other states like Manipur will be selected.

“If in six months a state cannot respond, we will amend the rules and chose some other state like Manipur,” Prabhakaran said.

“We will have a meeting with the stakeholders to understand what are the shortcomings, so that we can cater to the priorities of each state,” he said.

Das said the Indian Super League clubs have also agreed to be part of the programme.

“I have already spoken to a few ISL clubs and also had a meeting with Roberto Carlos of Delhi Dynamos and they have stated they will be happy to be associated with the programme,” he said.

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