India finally began their world cup qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win against Guam in Bangalore. The people of the city turned up in huge numbers to show support to the Indian team and raised the largest banner seen in an Asian Football game, ever, once again proving that there is a lot of love and support for the sport in India. With the slow upsurge in the popularity of the ISL and the growing limelight that the sport is receiving, it is a good time as any to begin a grassroots program with a vision and set up football schools and academies throughout the country to develop the sport and create a better calibre of players for the future. Here are some of the ways football academies and schools can be set up in India:
The Sports Authority of India and the AIFF should be proactive and start investing in better infrastructure in existing academies and football stadia so that they can be on par with their international counterparts. They should also be setting up world class facilities throughout the country, in hubs of football, so that there can be sustained and all over growth.
The NorthEast has for long been a mine of footballing gems; setting up a sustained football development academy with top of the line facilities will be advantageous and aid the growth of the sport. It will also help the players stay on equal footing with their foreign counterparts.
Licensed Coaches and Visionaries
To develop a footballing brain in youngsters, having an adept coach with a long term view of the future is essential. It is about time that we did away with the thought of instant gratification and changing coaches every year without letting them implement their thoughts into action and got in a top coach or manager to train the youth and develop youth academies. Playing the long game and having a vision for the future is crucial, and it would be beneficial if the AIFF splurged and got in one of the best minds in football to develop the young players.
Indian football saw tremendous growth and achieved a lot under the legendary Syed Abdul Rahim (aka Rahim Saab), a man who was ahead of his time and the greatest visionary and motivational tactician Indian football had seen. He was revered the world over for his techniques and strategies – indeed the techniques used in Brazilian football in the 60s had been utilized by Rahim Saab a decade earlier.
Right now, Indian football could do with having such a man helm its coaching and managerial positions. The Chilean and Venezuelan Coach, or Zico, the coach of FC Goa, are all good candidates for the position.
It is high time that we had football schools and academies across the nation helmed by such visionaries to bring out the best of Indian talent.
The All India Football Federation and the Sports Authority of India need to take the development of Football seriously and invest heavily if they truly seek to take India forwards in the world’s most watched sport. Investing in greater infrastructure by building top level football academies and schools, getting licensed coaches for them, and regularly having the national team play international matches is the only way forward. It is essential that the government support players who sacrifice their education in the pursuit of sport. A lot of past sportsmen who have done well for the country have been forgotten, with one of India’s leading footballers now forced to sell coconuts and survive, while India’s only top level referee who officiated the ISL matches had to take to driving a rickshaw after the tournament was over for the sustenance of his family.
To this end, investing in the sport and building football schools and academies by keeping an eye on the aforementioned guidelines is important, since the youth of today are the sports stars of tomorrow, and investing in the future can only be done in the present.
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