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.
The 3-day course was led by AIFF Technical Director, Scott O’Donell, who comprehensively covered key aspects of grassroots football which included the grassroots philosophy, small-sided games (SSGs), the code of conduct, and grassroots characteristics. During the workshop, O’Donell repeatedly emphasised the importance of grassroots football and how it forms the backbone of a country’s overall football program. He also went on to say that grassroots football festivals alone are not enough to develop technically strong players and that year-round football training programs for boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 12 years are absolutely essential to establish a strong foundation for club and national age-group teams.
The course was attended by 31 participants from India’s leading football clubs and was very well received. Among the participants were Gumpe Rime, Head of Youth Development – Shillong Lajong, Ranjan Chowdhry – East Bengal and Katz Naidoo – Dempo Sports Club. While the attendees concurred with O’Donell’s view of grassroots football, they all acknowledged that much more time, effort and money needs to be channeled into the grassroots movement.
The course concluded with a hugely successful grassroots football festival in New Delhi where more than 140 children took part in a series of fun, football-related activities and small-sided games. For the participants, it was a refreshing experience to set club allegiances aside and come together as one for the betterment of football in India, even if only for a few days. And if each of the club representatives go back to their respective institutions and get their own grassroots football program rolling, it will be a very positive move for children across the country. This is one of those times when we can definitely commend the AIFF for the efforts taken. Kudos!