With a population of 1.2 billion, it is discontenting to see India at the staggering end of the FIFA World rankings. In the past decade, great strides have been made to develop football in India, the Indian Super League which was launched in 2013 has been a turning point for Indian football. With an ever increasing fan base, foreigners sprucing up the level of play, investment into the game and interest from international clubs the future of Indian football looks bright. But is this enough?
While we are appreciative of all the positive developments in Indian football, one area still needs to constantly be the focus; promoting grassroots football and executing a proper nation-wide strategy to get children to train and play can literally change the game.
The All India Football Federation aligns itself with the FIFA definition of grassroots football which defines it as football for kids between 6-12 years of age. At the Foundation we define grassroots football as organised football for children under the age of 12 – where young players grow up playing the game locally as well as regularly, in a safe and inclusive environment.
At the Foundation, we want to change the way India looks at grassroots football by inspiring and promoting young people to train and play. In addition to providing opportunities for children to train, learn and play football the Foundation aims to become a platform that can become an avenue for young players, parents, PE teachers, coaches, academies, not-for-profit organizations to connect with each other.
During the on-going pandemic, we asked young footballers from all over India to send us videos of themselves training from home. The response was great and we featured many young footballers from across the Country on our Instagram platform. Overwhelmed by the reach, we are now motivated to use the power of social media and the internet to further promote development of the game.
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We feel it is important to have a space dedicated to grassroots football. Leveraging our presence on Social Media platforms, particularly (Instagram and Facebook) as well as with The Bridge’s help, we can curate all grassroots football related information in one place.
Some of the information we could include would be state-wise information on baby leagues, tournaments, football training camps, coach license programs, and curriculums for specially-abled individuals to learn through football. Having a platform with resources as such can help grassroots football organisations in India learn from each other and pave the way for a competent new generation of young footballers. This will help India shine at the world stage.
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