It’s a great opportunity for me to give back to the sport, says Bhaichung Bhutia

After filing his fresh nomination for the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) president post, former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia on Friday said that it’s a great opportunity for him to give back to the sport.

Amid the hectic activities in the AIFF over the filing of nomination for the Executive Committee polls, the 45-year-old Bhutia on Thursday filed his fresh nomination for the post of president. His nomination was proposed by the president of the Andhra Football Association Gopalkrishna Kosaraju and seconded by Manvendra Singh, president Rajasthan Football Association.

“I am there for the betterment of Indian football. I want to be a part of the administration and want to work for Indian football. The sport needs reforms in the country. Today, what I’ve become is only because of football. I’m a Padma Shri because of it. I played for India for 16 years; this is my moment to give back to my sport. It needs reforms with the (FIFA) bans happening,” Bhutia said during a press conference on Friday.

“Whatever has happened in the past has happened. It (AIFF) has been run by businessmen and politicians. You know, today, at least I’m not affiliated or attached to any big national party. I can go to any state today, be it a Congress, BJP NCP, DMC or JD-ruled state… any state, I can go because I’m not affiliated to any political party,” he added.

Bhutia who has played more than 100 international matches for India was all praise for former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly who is doing extremely well as the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

“Sourav Ganguly, one of the all-time greats of Indian cricket, is doing such a great job as president of the Indian cricket board. He’s just one of example. Why can’t other players do it as well? So, my thing is, that we can work once I get into the federation (AIFF).

“I’m already working with the government and I can assure you that the All India Football Federation (AIFF) will work with all the state associations and the government as well for the betterment of the sport. We’ll be able to work and do a much better job that way,” he said.

On the fight with the former goalkeeper and now BJP leader Kalyan Chaubey who is also in the fray for the post of president and reportedly the frontrunner for the post, Bhutia said,

“I am inviting Kalyan Chaubey for discussion. We’ll sit together and let’s have a debate on Indian football. Convince me with your ideas and I will be ready to work with you. I think it’s time that you know that sportspersons also have a say and can fight for the post of president, can win and can do a good job. I’m sure and I’m confident I can do that.

“I’ve got that experience. I’ve got that knowledge, and I’ve got nice plans which we can look at for Indian football to prosper. I’ve mentioned that centres of excellence are something which we want to have in all the states so that the states can start producing quality players,” he said.

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