It was back in November 22 last year that Patel chaired the first Executive Committee Meeting in the absence of Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, who was on ventilator hoping for survival.
The elections for the post of Indian FA
president was to be held before December 31 2008 and many emotional members
wanted a postponement but as the Constitution stated that the elections had to
happen within nine months of the end of the financial year.
Why the postponement? As they didn’t want to show disrespect
to Dasmunsi! Just shows how professional is the manner of thinking at the top! Therein
it was decided to give Praful Patel, the senior most vice-president, to take
over the banter until the elections take place. The only nomination filed was
that of Dasmunsi and hence was named as the President on December 23 2008 with
Patel to continue in his capacity of the acting president.
Patel had a task at his hand as he went into damage control
mode as the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Bharti and AIFF expired
due to the lackadaisical attitude of his subordinates who have been inept to
“I have spoken to
Sunil Mittal and he wasn’t very sure as to how to go about it as the academy
has hit many blocks. But importantly, they are committed to the cause, and we
shall re-ignite the interest in the academy,” said Patel optimistically back in
Indian sports ministry gave a helping hand to the AIFF when
they decided to give ten crores for the preparation of the India U-23 team for
the 2010 Asian Games. Have we ever heard of such grants coming in the past?
Nope, and the credit goes to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader.
Even until July, many continued to doubt Praful Patel’s
contribution as several insiders felt that it was their Bengalli dada
(Dasmunsi) who was the ‘sole bread earner’ for the Indian FA. All such doubts
were put to rest when Patel got the Board of Control for Cricket in India
(BCCI) to grant Rs. 25 crores to Indian football over the course of two years.
Now who could have done that?
India national coach had mentioned that it was Praful Patel,
in his very first Executive Committee Meeting where he chaired, floated the
idea of keeping the national team together for a period of eighteen months.
Though the move didn’t work due to financial and lack of clarity as to how to
go about it, the ambitiousness and the tendency to think different from the outdated systems, which would make any enthusiastic individual pull his hair
off, was a welcome change.
When the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) vice-president,
Manilal Fernando met Patel to convey his message of strengthening the AIFF’s
administration by helping its general secretary, Alberto Colaco and that any
change at the top would be nothing less than suicidal. It was heartening to see
that Patel stood his ground and sent a strong message to the outside forces
that they needn’t interfere and that the Indian FA is more than capable of
taking their own decisions.
Though there hasn’t been much happening in terms of
promoting the I-League and Indian football as such, Patel took a creative
decision in appointing ‘Sallu’ Salman Khan as the brand ambassador of Indian
football. The Bollywood heartthrob even watched the Nehru Cup final against
Syria at the Ambedkar.
The Mohun Bagan-Bhaichung Bhutia affair was mishandled and sent
to the arbitrator who as of today hasn’t come out with the full verdict!
The AIFF Emergency Committee set a deadline of August 31 for
all the I-League clubs to fulfil the criteria sent by the AFC and follow a plan
if they hope to participate in the prestigious Champions League. However, the Indian FA, itself, hadn’t and
still hasn’t yet complied with the stipulations mentioned in the AFC document!
It’s good news for Indian football fans to know the
interviews for the post of I-League CEO is to take place however, one expects
it to be fair and prays that no decision be taken on the basis of
‘recommendations’ by certain individuals, who have stagnated the system any
Alberto Colaco has mentioned that he wishes to leave the
AIFF for various reasons and his contract expires at the end of the year. It’s
essential that the search for the next general secretary goes into the next
gear by conducting interviews. This would give the new candidate to get expert
insights on how to run the AIFF from the Colaco and get acquainted with the
Praful Patel has done a ‘more than what’s expected’ job as
an acting President and one expects him to continue to do so. And the first
step will be to look for an able subordinate who shall implement and change the
image of the AIFF into a professional house, who are working to promote and
take Indian football to the next level. There are still many issues which have
to be sorted before one can commend his appointment at the top.
Goal.com Verdict: 6.5 on the scale of 10.
Let us know what YOU think? How has Praful Patel Fared so far?