The newly-elected executive committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) under the presidentship of Kalyan Chaubey has come out with a vision paper in the form of a magazine — 2022 REVIEW — focusing on the road ahead of the federation.
In his introductory note, Chaubey emphasised on the facts he feels as most important for Indian football to move forward. One among these is the much discussed promotion of Hero I-League clubs to Hero Indian Super League (ISL).
“One of the most important decisions we have already taken, one which has been much discussed and argued, is the promotion pf Hero I-League clubs to Hero Indian Super League. All speculation that it won’t happen has been buried, and AIFF, as per the roadmap agreed with AFC, has taken that step. While that makes the Hero ISL and Hero I-League a dynamic duo of club competitions at the highest level, our second move has been to ensure that the third competition after the above two – the Hero Second Division League – is open only to Indian players,” Chaubey wrote.
Emphasising on the dearth of top Indian players in key positions as these are all occupied by foreigners both in the ISL and I-League, Chaubey wrote that this move will help in opening the path for more Indian players to hone their skills at the top level.
He went on to add that this, along with AIFF’s focus on inter-state senior championships, the Hero Santosh Trophy, will help throw up a larger pool of talent for the selection of the national squad.
The format of Santosh Trophy has been changed in order to provide more matches to the states.
Also, another first in the national championship is that the two semifinals, along with the third-place play-off and final, will be played in Saudi Arabia. This will give over 100 players and coaching staff the experience and opportunity to travel abroad and play in international facilities.
Shaji Prabhakaran, Secretary General, AIFF, expressed his optimism saying, “We came in at a very difficult phase of Indian football. A serious governance crisis presented us with many challenges. We are blessed with one key resource, i.e., our incredible human capital and for India to achieve its big goal, we have to work as one entity.”
These are initial steps and perhaps the first of many more that the AIFF will usher in. Football lovers can hope that this will be a good start on a long path to international success.