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What to expect from the AIFF Strategic Roadmap?

The topmost body for the sport in India will announce the long-term goals on 7th January, Saturday.

AIFF (Source: Indian football team)
AIFF (Source: Indian football team)

The Bridge Desk

Published: 6 Jan 2023 4:12 PM GMT

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is all set to announce its 'Strategic Roadmap' which is touted to take Indian football to greater heights. It's certainly been more than 100 days since the newly-appointed president, Kalyan Chaubey, and other members of the committee were elected.

The topmost body for the sport in India will announce the long-term goals on 7th January, Saturday. While it is impossible to foretell what the committee has planned, but certain points can be looked at by rummaging through the various meetings which have taken place over the past few months.

What we can expect from the Roadmap

Individual roadmap for each state

In a meeting dating back to November, 2022, one of the suggestions was that AIFF provide an annual financial support of 24 lakhs to all the state associations. This was done in order to support the various state leagues, as well as the men and women's teams.

Moreover, it was also recommended that a state-specific roadmap be strategised by each state association once the roadmap is announced by AIFF.

Stress on youth development

"Our utmost priority will be to develop youth leagues and grassroots programmes in the states which will help Indian Football grow to greater heights. Without proper youth programmes, no new progress can be made in the structure," said Mr. Paul after the Development Committee meeting.

We can expect something on the grassroots level and youth development all around the country.

Streamlining refereeing

With experienced former referee Trevor Kettle at the helm of affairs, it's been said that referee development in India will be a huge part of the roadmap. Moreover, there have been whispers of introducing a watered-down version of VAR (Video Assistance Referee) into the fray, so it'll be a huge positive sign if the same happens, especially after many controversial decisions in the ongoing 2022-23 ISL season.

Department for Women's football

"Now we are in the process of setting up a separate women's department," said General Secretary Shaji Prabhakaran back in a December AIFF press release. Hence, we might see women's football in India be looked after by a separate entity, as it was back in the 70s.

What should be in the Roadmap

While the aforementioned aspects should certainly get space in the roadmap, there are some problems which should find solutions on the 7th January reveal. Before anything, stringent plans of action should be put in place against any form of sexual harassment.

The girls of the U-17 national team were sexually harassed by former assistant coach Alex Ambrose, that too a few months before the World Cup. While the perpetrator was suspended, no further action was taken. Moreover, there were recent rumblings of the accused coming back in the capacity of a coach.

If there is no promise of accountability and transparency over such important matters, then no roadmap can be successful.

With the AFC Asian Cup looming large on the horizon, more national team friendlies and longer camps should be arranged by the federation. This will only ensure more consistency between the national team players and promote better chemistry between them.

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