NEW DELHI: Mr. Robert Klein, CEO, Bundesliga International, expressed optimism that given the maturity of Indian football, the country must set its sights on participating in the 2022 World Cup.
Speaking at 'Goal 2019', the 6th International Convention on Business of Football, organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and All India Football Federation (AIFF), Mr. Klein said, "Bundesliga has identified India as the target market as we truly believe in the potential of your lovely country."
He said that Bundesliga was working in close cooperation with IMG-Reliance on strategy development and local execution. For the development of football in India, Eintracht Frankfurt will scout for 20 Indian players who will be taken to Germany for training this year, he added.
The focus, he said was on being present where the fan is, club tours and close coordination with clubs, fan events and grassroots and CSR projects.
Mr. Subrata Dutta, Senior Vice President, All India Football Federation (AIFF), said the federation had launched its four-year strategic plan (2019-22), under which four new FIFA approved venues would be developed. The National Centre of Excellence was coming up at New Town in Kolkata to provide state-of-the-art facilities for players, coaches and officials, development of accredited academies, he added.
He underlined the need for proper coordination and communication by all stakeholders in alignment with AIFF's strategic plan.
Mr. Rohit Bhardwaj, Director - Sports, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, pointed out that sport was a tool for peace and development, and it was recognised as such by the UN for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Indian football, he said, was on the verge of taking a big leap forward through the government's 'Khelo India' programme which was now scouting for talent at the grassroots level.
Ms. Sara Pilot, Chairperson, Women's Football Committee, AIFF, expressed confidence that women had the ability to excel in the sport and could effectively occupy the football space in India. If girls were given the opportunity to play, the movement could galvanise the country, she said and emphasised the need to have women role models to popularize the sport.
Mr. Siddhartha Upadhyay, Co-Chair, FICCI Sports Committee & General Secretary, STAIRS, said that India was producing new heroes not just from the grassroots level but also from amongst the white collared and these were set to change the course of Indian football.
Mr. Chanakya Chaudhary, Co-Chair, FICCI Sports Committee & VP, Corporate Services, TATA Steel, gave a vote of thanks.