Infrastructure and Public-Private Partnerships hold the key to the development of Indian football.

Stakeholders of Indian football who gathered at the International Football Arena (IFA) Roundtable were also unanimous in their opinion that India requires to nurture young talents at the grassroots level. The roundtable was organised with the aim of finding solutions for the holistic development and marketing of Indian football.

Thierry Regenass – Director Member Associations and Development Division, FIFA, said, “We invested $8 million in infrastructure mainly to build artificial football turfs in Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Imphal and Shillong, and to renovate stadiums in Mumbai. India is famous for its bureaucracy so it took us a lot of time to get these projects off the ground. But once this is done we will look at football management in India and revenue generation. Our performance programme will tackle these issues working directly with the AIFF.”

Speaking at the roundtable, Graeme LeSaux – Legend Chelsea FC, reiterated the fact that Chelsea will enter the Indian market at the opportune moment. He said, “We are scouting for the right partner and are in dialogue with likeminded people. It has always been Chelsea‟s endeavour to develop football around the world, and India is no exception. It„s just that we need to gauge the viability and commitment of our Indian partner.”

Andy Knee, Vice President – IMG Football, opined, “There has to be commitment to development of infrastructure. Unless infrastructure is in place the question of creating footballers of world standard does not arise and unless both happen, investments and extensive corporate support will not be possible. The fact remains there has to be commercial viability for investors.”

Addressing the IFA Roundtable, Kushal Das, General Secretary – AIFF, said, “Our need at this juncture is to find a world-class Technical Director. Unless we have a good Technical Director there is no point in having a great coach. AIFF will be closely examining the relevance of every domestic tournament. To take football to the grassroots level and talent hunt, AIFF will work closely with its partners at every level.”

Shekhar Ramamurthy, Deputy President – United Breweries Ltd, added, “We have to accept the fact that India will not play like Spain anytime in the near future. We need to grow step by step and the process should start now and the onus is not only on the AIFF but also on every club. While the UB Group is committed to development of football in India, the country needs more corporate participation.”

Larsing Sawyan, General Secretary – Shillong Lajong Football Club, expressed the need of scouting for talent and developing football to be performed at the local level. “Community development is the key to success of football development.”

While short-term commercial gains will not help Indian football, the country needs to scout and hone for young talents. As Marcel Schmid, Founder & Chairman – International Football Arena, said, “India needs to provide exposure to the juniors on a regular basis. But everything will fall into place once India develops the infrastructure. And for good infrastructure, Public – Private Partnership is necessary.”

The International Football Arena Roundtable was attended by representatives from AIFF, BCCI, Bharti Realty Ltd, Chelsea FC, FC Bayern Munich, FIFA, Football Players Association of India, FutFire Sports India; gmp Architekten von Gerkan, Marg und Partner; IMG; Match World Ltd; Populous; Reliance Industries Limited; SE TransStadia Pvt. Ltd.; Shillong Lajong Football Club; United Breweries Ltd; United East Bengal Football Team Pvt. Ltd; United Spirits.

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