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Baby Leagues : The way forward

Baby Leagues : The way forward

Nazrin Mather

Published: 7 Feb 2018 1:07 AM GMT
Indian football still lacks good Indian players on the ground. Before the current season of ISL flagged off, it was made mandatory that every team must have six Indian players on the field at all times during a match. This mandate has definitely helped to perk up local football talent in the country. Just like cricket, football too is a much loved game of the nation. Bringing in foreign players, despite having good (unrealised) talented players within the country itself, is equivalent to wasteful spending and lack of realization of indigenous potent. Many initiatives are being taken in this direction, and one such is that of the Baby Leagues initiative by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). On Tuesday, the AIFF news page read, 'Increasing the base of the player pyramid structure works with work on the grassroots. The more talent available in the bottom strata of the pyramid the more refined the product at the top of the pyramid.' AIFF has begun right from the grass root level itself. Baby Leagues would pave the way for young players into the junior leagues, with the U-13 I-League and U-15 I-League coming into play. The young players would get exposure and can blazon up their skills at a much earlier and perhaps, the more appropriate age itself. Richard Hood, who is the Head of Player Development at AIFF told the AIFF News Media, 'With the foundation for development being established with the Baby Leagues, we need comprehensive local youth leagues that run all through the year from ages 13-18. The aim is to increase the number of games without making it a logistical burden for participating teams and make all competitive platforms as local and regional as possible.' He also said, 'Along with the Baby Leagues, we are also working overtime in establishing local hotspots models which are in line with best practices' Richard further opined the opening up and need of local hotspots. He told AIFF news media, 'By doing this we will provide every player entering the game at an early age a well established and comprehensive eco-system of clubs, schools, and academies that train with a sense of purpose to perform for the game on the weekend...Needless to say given the diversity we have in this country every model for this eco-system will need to be region specific, but the number of games per season and the duration of the season is the non-tangible factor'. Indian football is witnessing a revolution in its world. The revolution has thus begun with the birth of Baby Leagues. The introduction of Baby Leagues has come with a strong assurance towards the overall development of Indian football with Referees, Coaches, and other technical staff being involved in the process of setting up a well-rounded League. Richard Head had also told the AIFF news media, 'By amplifying our local and regional football we will see a far healthier eco-system a decade or so from the time we start. This is where patience, stubbornness, and commitment to a singular cause and vision is needed.'
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