Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could visit India to advise on youth development projects: AIFF

Arsene Wenger, former Arsenal manager and current head of world football’s governing body FIFA, could visit India to advise on youth development projects in the country, the AIFF said on Tuesday.

All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Kalyan Chaubey consulted with Wenger and other senior FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) officials on youth development projects in India.

“Mr Chaubey had extensive consultations with senior FIFA and AFC officials on youth development projects in India and acclaimed coach and FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger was able to visit India to advise on the projects,” the AIFF said in a release following a meeting with the representatives of the I-League clubs.

Chaubey and AIFF Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran had recently met with FIFA and AFC officials during the World Cup in Doha. Prabhakaran informed the assembly that a task force will be formed made up of representatives of I-League clubs.

“The task force will be in regular contact with the AIFF to finalize strategy and resolve issues as needed,” the release added.

Chaubey said the AIFF was “aiming for five hundred per cent growth in Indian football from both the qualitative and commercial aspects of the game”.

He also had conversations with the clubs about their partnership with the AIFF, key strategic areas of the game, player development trajectory, league pyramid, potential revenue growth areas, the way forward for commercial value increase and how India could be transformed into a talent center of world football.

“All clubs and the federation are pursuing a dream that they want to see realized in the near future. Our focus is on the development of the clubs and the AIFF is with the clubs and will support them as best we can,” he said.

“It is our duty to improve the overall conditions and facilities in the Hero I-League venues, including the pitch and lighting settings. The quality must not be compromised and the clubs will have to be alert to that.” Chaubey stressed that he had more homegrown players in as many tournaments across the country.

“Without homegrown players, we can’t build a large pool of local talent,” he said.

Prabhakaran explained the concept of Elite Youth Leagues and the development of age groups. He said there will be a top-down approach from Elite Youth Leagues to grassroots leagues across all age groups from U-9 to U-21.

“To help the competition run smoothly and allow clubs to plan their seasons well in advance, we will not be announcing the annual 2023-24 league calendar until December 2022.”

The meeting was attended by senior officials from Gokulam Kerala, Mohammedan Sporting Club, Sreenidi Deccan, Churchill Brothers, Punjab FC, Rajasthan United, NEROCA FC, Aizawl FC and TRAU FC.

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