“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.”
“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.