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AFC U16 Championship 2018: AIFF receives special grant as India step up preparations

11:00 am AEDT 19/1/18
India U16 national team
The Government of India has approved a special grant for the Indian colts at the behest of the AIFF...

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has received a special grant of ₹9 crores from the Government of India (GoI) for the India U16 team who are preparing for the AFC U16 Championship later this year. 

This is in addition to the normal allocation of funds to the team which can participate in the 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup if they manage a top-four finish in the AFC U16 Championship to be held in Malaysia in September. 

The AIFF will ramp up the preparations for the India U16 team now with the squad set to leave for Dubai later this month for a preparatory camp. The Indian FA will also organise a couple of four-nation tournaments to ensure the team gets proper match practice against top quality opponents.

The team could also play the likes of Manchester United and PSG in Doha in one of the tournaments which they would organize. They are also expected to go on exposure tours abroad to Doha, Spain, South Africa and Malaysia in addition to Dubai. 

The federation has a long-term view with respect to the development of the youngsters and are looking to groom this crop for the 2021 FIFA U20 World Cup and beyond, until the 2024 Olympics. AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das, alongside his trusted aides in Kishore Taid, CEO of AIFF and Abhishek Yadav, Director of Indian National Teams, made a presentation to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) two weeks back outlining the AIFF's vision for the development of the youngsters. 

The Government was left impressed and subsequently decided to grant the special funds to ensure the team gets the best facilities and exposure. 

"Yes, we made the presentation with a detailed plan until 2024 Olympics. A lot of hard work went into preparing this programme," revealed Kushal Das to Goal. "We want the team to get the best facilities and exposure and ensure they keep developing. 

"In the AFC U16 Championship later this year, the team will be playing a match every two days and we will be basing the tournaments we will conduct also on that format. 

"If they can perform well in the AFC U16 Championship, they qualify directly to next year's FIFA U17 World Cup. Of course, the results are not in our hands but what we can do is ensure we facilitate they have the best conditions to get the results." 

Kushal Das and team deserve credit for outlining an ambitious plan to ensure India keeps churning out stars for the future.