Indian Football: An RTI reveals how AIFF appoints a Team Psychologist for the Indian football team of each age category
After U-17 World Cup hosted by India, AIFF appointed a psychologist for not only its U-17 team but the Senior and U-23 (men and women) teams as well.
In an RTI filed by FGSR (Football Growth and Social Responsibility) is a non-profit initiative registered in Chennai, the All India Football Federation revealed that every Indian football team from the U-17 to the Senior team(men and women both) have a team psychologist, as a mandatory measure. The appointment of a team psychologist shows in more ways than one that Indian Football has started to align itself with global standards and practices that focus on the holistic development of the players and protect their well-being.
The reply of the AIFF mentions how the practice started in 2017 when India hosted the FIFA U-17 World Cup and has been continued since then.
In the modern game, all International athletes are under tremendous pressure of various kinds and need the help of a professional to help them adapt to every situation, and help them reach their true potential. The importance of Mental Health has been a rising cause, and many international athletes like Simone Biles (gymnast), Ben Stokes (Cricketer), Alvaro Morata (Footballer), and many more have spoken openly about they were not in the right state to perform or play, and they needed a break.
The Indian national team goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has been an advocate of mental health, and always talks about how it is equally important to be mentally fit. In the Óh My Olympics' podcast with The Bridge, Gurpreet spoke about it is okay to feel what you are feeling, and it's normal to ask for help for yourself. The 29-year-old goalkeeper also spoke about the challenges of being in a bio-bubble and how it impacts your mental health, and shared detail's about Bengaluru FC mental health initiative called 'Care Around the Corner'.
The appointment of a team psychologist also shows how Indian Football is matching global standards, and how AIFF is taking steps to improve the players off the pitch. What stands out is to see that NGOs and people who want the Indian football ecosystem to improve have started to raise the right questions.
FGSR, the organization that filed the RTI, is a not-for-profit organization that aims at the development of grassroots football by subsidizing the costs incurred by sportspersons from underprivileged communities in India. It was started in 2020, by graduates of Symbiosis Law School, Pune in an effort to give back to the beautiful sport of football. At present, FGSR is working towards providing training equipment to female and male athletes and thereby reducing training costs incurred by footballers within the football ecosystem.
Here are the details of the RTI filed BY FGSR: RTI Reference No: AIFF/Admin/RTI/2021/1208
The importance of a professional psychologist in a team adds more value to a team and helps the players to visualize, helps them understand what they are feeling, and more importantly, it helps them to think ahead after a match irrespective of the result of the game.