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Need to increase level of participation in football: Newly-appointed AIFF chief Kalyan Chaubey

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Friday announced the name of its president in its 85-year history with Kalyan Chaubey defeating the legendary Bhaichung Bhutia in the election for the top post.


Newly appointed All India Football Federation president Kalyan Chaubey said that it is important to increase grassroot participation in the sport to find more talent in the country.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Friday announced the name of its president in its 85-year history with Kalyan Chaubey defeating the legendary Bhaichung Bhutia in the election for the top post. The 45-year-old Chaubey, an ex-goalkeeper with Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, prevailed 33-1 as former Indian football skipper Bhutia lost the election and got only 1 vote. “We need to increase the level of participation.

We have to make sure that at district levels and below that, more and more children play the sport and they are provided facilities and infrastructure. We need to look into this. If more kids between 6-12 years old will play football, more will come into the senior side,” said Chaubey to ANI.

“We had said in the press conference that we will take out our vision of Indian football policy in 100 days after appointment. We have asked state associations for State Development Plan. For a problem in India, a single solution is not possible. After getting these plans, we will look into how feasible they are, estimate them and create a plan on how Indian football policy should be,” he added.

The president is happy that FIFA Under 17 Women’s Football World Cup is happening in India for the first time.

On challenges in organising the event, he said, “When such tournaments are conducted, FIFA provides technical and administrative advice as well. For the last 2-4 years, the Local Organisation Committee are staying here. It is good that this event is happening for the first time in India and we hope that Team India does well in it.”

The biennial youth tournament, scheduled to be held between October 11 and 30, 2022, will see the best young female footballers across the world showcase their talent in India and tickets for the same are now live.

Chaubey is extremely happy with his appointment as AIFF President and said that over the last 19 months, state football associations had come together to ensure that Indian football is run in a democratic manner and worked hard for it.

He thanked the Government of India for acting swiftly to make sure that FIFA lifted the ban imposed on Indian Football.

Earlier in August, FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) had imposed the suspension on AIFF (All India Football Federation) over “third party involvement”.

Following the decision, AIFF lost all FIFA membership rights, including the opportunity to host the U-17 Women’s World Cup in October.

Indian football teams were disallowed to compete in foreign events and neither the AIFF nor any of its members or officials could benefit from any FIFA or AFC development programmes, courses, or training.

The ban was lifted in August itself after FIFA received confirmation that the mandate of the committee of administrators that was set up to assume the powers of the AIFF Executive Committee had been terminated and that the AIFF administration had regained full control of the AIFF’s daily affairs.

On the possibility of the Indian Super League for women, Chaubey said that the matter will be discussed with the creators of the league.

“Our president is also a woman. In our women’s team, there are a lot of tribal women from Odisha and Jharkhand. They are talented. We will meet the President with them so that they feel motivated. We will also try putting camps and academies where women want to play. ISL is a private tournament, I cannot say much (on the possibility of women’s ISL). We will discuss this issue with them,” he said.

For improving India’s FIFA ranking and its standing in international football, Chaubey said that grass root training will be provided to children aged 6-12 years, then match exposure will be provided to 13-18 years olds and at age 19 or more, players will come into the senior side. He added for this, a long-term plan is needed, which he is sure that AIFF can pull off.

The president said that he will hold discussions with FIFA in order to make sure that a venue in West Bengal, a football-loving state, also gets to host matches of the Under-17 Women’s World Cup.

“I will try my best that they get to see as many matches as possible and interact with as many players as possible so that many players are able to play in National Games and Khelo India,” he added.

(Inputs from IANS)