Month: September 2015 (page 1 of 2)

Fateh Hyderabad AFC – Where Football is Going Bottom Up

No glitz. No glamour. No film personalities (yet). Just a quiet, determined focus on football. Meet the latest entrants to the world of professional football in India – Fateh Hyderabad Associated Football Club (AFC). Slated to be part of the Second Division I-League, Fateh Hyderabad AFC is set to put Hyderabad back on the map after a long break away from professional football in the country.

However, unlike most other clubs in India, Fateh Hyderabad AFC will adopt a bottom-up approach where the majority of their investments will be plowed into creating an ecosystem that allows the sport to thrive. Led by Columbia University-educated Yogesh Maurya who is also a private equities professional, the club has its sights firmly set on the long term. Rather than a mad scramble to qualify for the First Division I-League at the very first attempt, Fateh Hyderabad will focus on youth development and developing good infrastructure for football in the city to flourish.

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TOI Launches Girls Soccer League in Mumbai

With all eyes on the launch of ISL 2 on October 3rd, the time has come for Indian sports fans to switch channels from the-c-sport-that-cannot-be-mentioned to football. Yes, the ISL may have a limited impact at the grassroots level currently, but it is a nascent 3.5 month tournament that has certainly brought football to the forefront of the nation’s consciousness.

In keeping with this trend, the Mumbai Mirror, part of the larger Times of India group of publications, has joined hands with Western India Football Association (WIFA) and Mumbai School Sports Association (MSSA) to launch a unique tournament called the Mirror Girls Soccer League. To be played over two weekends in October at the Cooperage 5-a-side pitches in Mumbai, the Mirror Girls Soccer League comprises three categories; Under-14, Under-16 and Open/Free Age. Matches will be 5-a-side with 4 substitutes with rolling substitutions.

Given that this is targeted at a demographic starved of quality competition locally, it is definitely an initiative that will give a massive fillip for girls football in Mumbai, Maharashtra and even other cities in India. We hope that the Mirror Girls Soccer League is a massive success! Spread the word and let’s get as many girls to be part of the tournament!

Here is a quick snapshot of the tournament details & how you can participate:

Dates: 10-11 & 17-18 October, 2015

Venue: Cooperage 5-a-side pitches, Churchgate

Format: 5-a-side with 4 substitutes (rolling subs)

Categories: U14, U16 & Open/Free Age

Last Date for Registration: 1st October, 2015

To register, write to or call MSSA on 022 22693974 or 22620400.

Watch What You’re Saying Soccer Moms & Dads

Earlier this month, we were appalled to hear how young Emily Dyke, aged 14, had considered giving up her hobby as a referee at children’s football matches when she was verbally abused by parents. Yeah, you read that right. Parents called Emily a “f#$@ing disgrace” and told her “you don’t know what you’re f#$@ing doing” when she was refereeing Under-9 and Under-8 games. Even worse, some parents even justified their behaviour by saying, “She is a ref, she should expect abuse.”

After reading about this, we at GFI, had to take a collective deep breath before getting on with the rest of the day. Here is a teenager using her leisure time learning how to officiate football matches and this is what parents come up with? If you’re a parent, how would you feel if your child was at the receiving end of such nasty comments?

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One for Our Grassroots Football Coaches

This one is dedicated to all the grassroots football coaches in India and across the world who work for a pittance or without pay even, overcome huge obstacles, and go well beyond the call of duty to make sure their players preserve their love for ‘The Beautiful Game’ – wherever you may be, however difficult things may seem on some days, know that you have the power to change the lives of your young players. More power to you!

Mandela Quote on Sports

FIFA Exclusive: India – The Sleeping Giant of World Football

How many times have we heard that  tiring title before? “The Sleeping Giants of World Football”. As India Coach, Stephen Constantine says in the video below:

“It doesn’t mean anything. [The ‘sleeping giant’ title] I really don’t understand. Possibly we’re not sleeping and we’re in a coma and we need to wake the hell up. And we will.”

While Constantine says that the playing surfaces have improved significantly and the players coming through to the national setup are better ‘coached’ than before, he says the one massive factor that has remained the same is the development of youth football – there is no systematic approach or framework to develop young footballers in India. Starting from grassroots football to elite youth development, there needs to be a detailed plan and system implemented so that the best talent reaches the top.

Here are Constantine’s thoughts on youth development in India today:

“[In the 10 years I’ve been away from India] The thing that hasn’t really changed much is the youth development. And we really, really got to put our money and our focus and our energy in developing the youth of India. I think we need to re-establish ourselves, regain the respect of Asia because, at the moment, we are pretty much a laughing stock. That has to change and that will change.”
When speaking about the talent pool available in India, the Coach had this to say:


“There are diamonds everywhere. You got to dig them out, polish them, cut them and then you stick them in a ring. You don’t take a diamond out of the mountain and put it in a ring.”

Here’s the FIFA exclusive video:

From this, it is clear that the only way forward for India is to invest heavily in grassroots football and youth development. Because the strength of a country’s football program is directly related to the strength of its grassroots system.

India Qualify for AFC Under-16 Championship – On Merit

India U16 Team - AFC U16 Qualifiers

India U16 Team – AFC U16 Qualifiers
Image Credits: AIFF Media

Despite being chosen as hosts for the 2016 AFC Under-16 Championships, India put in the hard yards and qualified on merit as one of the third best runners-up among 11 groups. Coach Nicolai Adam‘s young team put in a creditable performance beating Bahrain 5-0 and Lebanon 6-0 with a 0-3 loss to Iran sandwiched between the two wins.

India’s positive results brought more good news for South Asian football as their entry on merit enabled the Nepal U16s to qualify for the tournament from Group B. While the results have been excellent, it was more encouraging to see the Indian colts play an attractive style of football, create chances and score nice goals. Further, their performances even drew accolades from opposition coaches:

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Mumbai City FC Launch Grassroots Football League

Mumbai City Grassroots League

Mumbai City FC, who were awarded the Best Grassroots Programme by the Reliance Foundation earlier in May this year, have built on their initial success by announcing the launch of a new Grassroots Football League in the city. The ISL club has joined hands with the Navi Mumbai Area Schools Association (NMASA) to set up a much-needed youth league for children in the Under-8, Under-10, Under-12 and Under-14 age groups. The Mumbai City FC-NMASA Grassroots Football League will be held at the Fr Agnel Sports Complex in Vashi and will provide boys and girls from more than 150 schools in the Navi Mumbai area with competitive matches in a well-regulated and safe environment.

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Performance Over Results

Contributed by Ajeya Row – Head, Soccer Schools, Pune FC

One of the greatest travesties of grassroots football is watching a coach jumping and yelling along the touchline as s/he sucks the joy out of the game for the kids out on the pitch. I recently caught an Under-12 game where a school coach cursed and heckled his own player for misplacing a pass! It was disgraceful.

When I think back to why coaches behave like that in training or at a game, there are a few reasons that come to mind:

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AFC U16 Qualifiers: India U16s Lose to Iran

India U16 lost to Iran U16: 0-3

(Sharfi 15, Khodamoradi 43, Ghaderi 57)

India’s Under-16 team lost 0-3 to the Iran Under-16s in their penultimate AFC U16 Championship qualifying match in Tabriz City, Iran. Coming into the match on the back of a successful Germany tour and a big win over the Bahrain U16s, the Indians had been quietly confident of giving the hosts a good fight.

The Indian colts actually began strongly as they dominated the opening ten minutes with quality possession. However, Iran scored first in the 15th minute against the run of play. Not to be deterred, the India U16s kept pouring forward but, despite their best efforts, were unable to break down the Iranian defence. Despite the pressure, it was Iran who scored again two minutes before half-time which left the Indians going into the break two goals down. It then got worse in the 57th minute when Iran scored their third goal after which both teams seemed resigned to the result.

The game ended at 0-3 in favour of Iran. The young Blue Tigers will take on the Lebanon U16s who lost 1-2 to Bahrain earlier in the day.

To read the match report, click here.

AIFF Conducts Grassroots Workshop for I-League Clubs

AIFF Grassroots Workshop

AIFF Grassroots Workshop in New Delhi

While the AIFF has been under fire in the past few weeks regarding the ISL and I-League mess, they are still taking positive steps in other areas – especially in regard to grassroots football in India. The governing body recently conducted a Grassroots Leaders Workshop for representatives of all I-League & 2nd Division League clubs.

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