Bhaichung Bhutia has urged Indian football bodies to actively push grassroots development, saying that is the only way forward for the country. AIFF president Praful Patel agreed with him and said although Indian football is currently in a difficult phase it is moving forward in the right direction.
Bhutia, a member of the AIFF Technical Committee, was part of a gathering that included Patel and former players IM Vijayan, Jo Paul Ancheri and Bruno Coutinho.
“That’s the only way forward,” Bhutia said while speaking about grassroots development.
Bhutia was excited at the fact that opportunities have grown manifold for youngsters from his playing times. “I was discussing with Vijayan how we never got to play any tournaments at the under-16 or under-19 level before being picked for the National squad. The only tournament I played was Subroto Cup at under-16. Today 55 teams are participating at the under-15 level I league,” Bhutia was quoted as saying by The Hindu.
“The way forward is to focus on the grassroots and create an environment. It is important for
Bhutia also urged the state associations to actively participate in the development of football. “It is important that the state associations show more involvement. If they don’t pick their best team in the under-16 tournament then it is waste of time. In my times, the Sikkim team would be picked from players
Patel backed Bhutia on grassroots development and said that Indian football was on the right path even if the current phase was difficult. “It is a far cry from the rest of the world. We need investment to develop football and this is the most difficult phase. But there is a quantum change in the direction of the Indian football. It may not be at the world level but is certainly moving in the right direction.”