Minister for sports and youth affairs Kiren Rijiju outlined an elaborate plan to scout talent across the nation in a bid to achieve FIFA World Cup qualification. The strategy involves five zonal committees and aims for the nation to qualify for the World Cup and the Olympics in the next 10-15 years.
The minister claimed that this approach aims to make India a sporting powerhouse. The programme would be funded by Sports Authority of India under the Khelo India Programme in partnership with the All India Football Federation. Rijiju added that this would be the ‘most aggressive exercise’ implemented by the ministry.
He revealed to Suni Chhetri through a virtual programme organised by Football Delhi that the committee will be formed in the next few months. He stated:
“We will form five talent scouting committees in the next few months, one for each zone — north, south, east, west and northeast — under Khelo India Programme of SAI in partnership with AIFF,”
“We cannot go with the usual approach, we have to go deeper in a professional way. It will be the most aggressive exercise we had ever done. We have to find out talented children below 12 years from every nook and corner of the country whether it is northeast, the tribal areas of central India, coastal areas, south or north,” he added.
Rijiju aspires for World Cup and Olympic qualification
Apart from scouting talent, the programme also aims to give financial assistance to state governments and the federation as well in order to conduct local leagues to nurture talent and giving them a platform to showcase their ability. This will also enable scouting at a grass-root level.
AIFF president Praful Patel expressed his delight over the ministry’s decision. He said:
“A more aggressive and comprehensive programme right to the last village of the country with SAI’s financial support is welcome. I am very happy to hear this from the minister,”
Moreover, Sunil Chhetri who turned 36, was part of the virtual programme and gave his inputs to the ambitious and optimistic approach by the ministry. He stated:
“Talent identification and right coaching is the most crucial thing. If we can identify all the talented children of 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years of age and give them right coaching, we will go miles and the change will be monumental,” he said.
“We have not tapped the entire talent pool in this country. Since we have not searched the whole of the country, the idea that India is yet to arrive is wrong.”