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The Indian FA are toying with the idea of having a better organized U-19 league instead of an Indian Arrows side…

With the exit of Bob Houghton from the Indian football scenario, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) are also in the process of examining the Indian Arrows project and are contemplating on using the same resources employed for a better U-19 league.

According to sources close to Goal.com, it was in the AFC Ad-Hoc Committee for Indian Football that a suggestion was made, after the team failed to meet the club licensing criterion, to come up with a better youth development strategy in terms of utilizing the finance used for Indian Arrows for an extensive U-19 league which shall see the development of young players across the country instead of a mere 25.

Indian Arrows Or A Better Organised U-19 League?

It was back in March last year when the AIFF president Praful Patel and Bob Houghton came to the conclusion of keeping hold of the boys graduating from the India U-19 team as their talent gets wasted once they join the I-League clubs where most of the time is spent warming on the bench. The idea was to provide these set of select boys – top class coaching, nutrition and facilities so that in about five years time, they would form the crux of the Indian national team when they play the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

With the AFC expecting every club to fulfill the club licensing norms and the exorbitant expenditure of the project mentioned coupled with a prospect of several other grass root development initiatives in the pipeline, the AIFF have been forced to reconsider their priorities with regards to the Indian Arrows.

"Few Issues Need To Be Resolved Regarding Indian Arrows"

Kushal Das, the AIFF general secretary, confirmed the same and reasoned as to why the Indian FA are weighing up their options.

“The Indian Arrows experiment has so far worked well and Houghton deserves credit for the part played by him for this initiative. We do have a few issues to be resolved regarding the future of this initiative,” said Das.

“Firstly for the team to continue to play in the I-League, the licensing criterion set by the League must be fulfilled. The AFC in the recent meeting for professionalization of Indian football agreed to allow some of the teams which do not fulfill the licensing criteria, like the PSU teams and Indian Arrows a holiday of one more season to comply with the regulations. We need to review if this can be achieved after the next season,” he explained.


   How To Best Spend Cash?

With some of the players performing exceptionally well this season for the Indian Arrows, their market rate would obviously rise which automatically translates into a rise in expense for the AIFF in addition to the already exorbitant cost. In their desire to allocate the resources in the best possible manner, the AIFF are assessing the current structure and the options they could opt instead.

“The other issue is a financial issue in terms of operating this team. We need to consider whether it makes more sense (assuming the licensing criteria is met) to continue with this team or use the resources in restructuring the under 19 League and other grass root development projects after the next season.

“Ultimately the objective is to significantly improve the performance and the ranking of the senior national team and qualify for the World Cup. We will also discuss with our partners IMG RIL as to the best way forward,” informed Das.

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