World football governing body FIFA is trying to help Indian football and the All India Football Federation in organising and structuring their youth development program. Now concrete steps are set to be taken in this regard which will hopefully help Indian football move in the right direction.
Now following the visit of the two-member FIFA Technical Team comprising of Thierry Regenass (Director Member Associations and Development Vision) and Jean-Michel Benezet (Technical Director) the AIFF with FIFA's guidance and support have finalised plans for setting up Regional Academies and an Elite Academy.
In Phase 1 of the Project, four Regional Academies would be set up in Bangalore (FIFA Goal Project II), Kolkata (Pailan World School), Mumbai/Navi Mumbai and Delhi/NCR by March 31, 2012. In case the Goal Project in Sikkim is fully operational by the end of this year, it may also be added in the first phase itself; while in the next phase by March 2013, further Academies have been planned in Chennai, Chandigarh and Kerala.
The Goa Technical Centre which currently is used as a Training Centre for the Under-16 and Under-19 National Teams will continue for the time being but once the other Academies are in place, there is a plan to convert the same into another Regional Academy as per FIFA plans.
Each Academy will house between 30 to 35 boys who will be selected from the grassroot level in the age group of 13/14 years after a scouting process from various football schools and school leagues across the country and further selection camps. FIFA is helping in setting up the guidelines for this scouting process.
Various football schools across the country will be reviewed by the AIFF for certification as a preferred place for scouting talent for the Regional Academies. The final selection will be done by a team consisting of the Technical Director, Academy Manager and Head Coach, Youth Development - Colm Toal.
All the selected boys will undergo a two-year stint in the Regional Academy where accommodation, food and education will be fully covered by the AIFF. Accordingly, the AIFF will be looking for schools which have residential and playing facilities in the various regions.
Boys from the age group of 16 will be selected from the Regional Academies for the Elite Academy, the location of which is yet to be finalised. The tenure in the Elite Academy will be for two years (till the age of 18) from where the boys can move to various clubs after completing their education.
The AIFF is also in the process of finalising the hiring of the Technical Director, the Academy manager and various other staff related to the Programme. The entire hiring process and selection of schools in Mumbai/Navi Mumbai and Delhi/NCR is expected to be completed by November 2011.
AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said, "This is easily the most important and crucial project undertaken by the AIFF in the last few years. I'm confident that it will go a long way in taking Indian football to a new level in a few years time."
Mr. Das profusely thanked the FIFA Officials for taking out time to provide guidance to this Programme and also the financial help and technical support which FIFA has committed to provide.
AIFF President Praful Patel enthusiastically welcomed this Programme and assured his commitment to do whatever is necessary to ensure its success and said, "The All India Football Federation will leave no stone unturned to ensure success of this Project."