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Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan Minister for Education assures all help for FIFA-AIFF Talent Academy

NEW DELHI: The All India Football Federation plans to create a robust three-stage pan-India structure for talent scouting and recruitment for its ambitious FIFA-AIFF Talent Academy.

Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Education (right), Picture: AIFF

In a joint effort with the Indian Ministry of Education and FIFA, the AIFF desires to integrate the ground-breaking ‘Football 4 School’ programme as a pathway to create a channel in identifying talent, scouting, and recruitment for its FIFA-AIFF Talent Academy.

In this regard, AIFF President Mr. Kalyan Chaubey, along with FIFA High-Performance Expert Ged Roddy and Philippe Senderos called upon Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister for Education & Skill Development in Delhi on Thursday, February 1, 2024 to present the blueprint and to seek Ministry’s support in reaching the last-mile connectivity to the remotest schools in rural India.

Philippe Senderos is a retired Swiss footballer renowned for his defensive prowess. Throughout his career, Senderos played for esteemed clubs such as Arsenal, A.C. Milan, and Valencia. He made significant contributions to the Swiss national team, representing them in three FIFA World Cups, including the 2006 and 2010 and 2014 editions. Senderos showcased his defensive skills on the international stage, leaving an indelible mark on Swiss football history.

Intending to prepare India’s inland squad for the future FIFA U17 World Cup events, AIFF’s blueprint attempts to create a funnel for the best talents available for its FIFA-AIFF Talent Academy on a year-by-year basis. To tap the geographical vastness of India – the national federation has proposed the integration of Football 4 School into its Talent Development Scheme to tap every possible school through the nodal agency Navodaya.

Mr. Chaubey said, “I’m thankful for the support we have been assured by the honourable Minister for Education Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan, the ministry, and its nodal agencies without which it will be very difficult to attempt a pan-India scouting programme. We want to go as far as possible, reach every possible 12–13-year talent in our quest to find and horn the skills of a home-grown talent. Minister Mr. Pradhan has shown keen interest in our proposal and has assured full support.

Mr Pradhan said, “The FIFA-AIFF plan is exciting and something never attempted before at this scale. The Football 4 School programme has already been introduced in 5 states and we wish to take it to every school, every student, and every PE teacher. I’m confident that the integration of Football 4 School as a talent scouting platform for the Academy will be successful with the commitment of FIFA, AIFF and the Ministry of Education.”

Football 4 School programme has currently been introduced in 4 states and 1 union territory, covering 8985 schools, off its targeted 155192 schools identified by the Ministry of Education. Odisha and Maharashtra saw the first phase roll out with 4561 and 2153 schools, respectively along with Gujarat (2016 schools), Goa (103 schools) and DNH&DD (107 schools).

Mr Chaubey added, “To have a competitive module in our scouting process, the State U13 tournaments and AIFF U13 National Championships will create a benchmark for talent identification.

The Bhubaneshwar-based first FIFA-AIFF Talent Academy plans to have an intake of 40-50 best scouted talents per year, over the next three years to enable a continuous scouting inflow in U13, U14 and U15 age categories. AIFF is also on the lookout to establish 5 additional Talent Academies in India, for which a combined FIFA-AIFF delegation will visit existing academies in India, by mid-March.

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