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The technical director of the national team believes that European clubs see huge potential in Indian youth, wants more competition in the U-12 and U-19 categories...

Rob Baan, technical director of the Indian national team who had been handed the arduous task of remodelling Indian football, is hopeful for the reform and restructuring of the same through his initiative Lakshya, which is still in its implementation infancy.

Speaking to The Times Of India, Baan elucidated, “Indian football is now all about a few clubs in Kolkata, Goa and a few in other places. Actually it should be much bigger. The clubs are keen on winning only tournaments and the I-League. They exhaust their budget on foreign recruits and completely and conveniently forget about youth development which is paramount. Now Lakshya is a roadmap for 10 years. If India wins the right to host 2017 U-17 World Cup our boys will get a chance to play in the tournament which will give them big exposure. Ultimately the programme aims at India’s qualification for Doha World Cup in 2022.”

Baan who is in the Kerala capital of Thiruvanthapuram, overseeing Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) ‘A’ license for coaches, is set to extend his association with Indian Football for one more year, as lays pen to paper on a contract extension.

The Dutchman minced no words when he iterated clearly that the All India football Federation (AIFF) should get to work immediately to rectify the negative permutations, resulting from its promotion of the Indian Super League (ISL).

“I realise that it’s difficult time for the players. It is not a good sign that players who have signed for ISL are sitting idle without any game though they get good money. I personally feel that I-League clubs and IMG-R should work together for the good of Indian football,” opined Baan, clearly disturbed by the schism between the two warring factions.

Baan was however satisfied with the perseverance of the AIFF in promoting and developing youth development a cornerstone of his mantra for footballing success.

“We’ve selected 150 talented footballers between the age group of 12 to 19 in our five elite academies across India. We’ll give them world class training. We are going for one more countrywide talent search soon and will monitor the development of these emerging footballers.”

Highlighting the presence of various European clubs and their subsidiaries in the Indian subcontinent, Baan added, “These Europe giants are in India because they think India has huge potential.”

Finally, Baan concluded by theorising the fallacies of India’s youth setup at present and what could be done to reverse the falling trend. “India needs better and more competition for the players in the under-12 to under-19 age group categories as there is virtually no competition in a structured way at the junior level. Not one off tournament which is conducted in an annual festival way,” said the Dutchman signing off.

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