In an effort to bolster football development at the grassroots level, AIFF (All India Football Federation) General Secretary Kushal Das said the baby leagues (for age groups 6 to 12) will be started soon across the country.
Das was speaking at the fifth International Convention on Football Business organized by the FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) and the AIFF under the aegis of the Goal 2018 programme in New Delhi on Tuesday.
“We have to go and work on the grassroots level and that is the only way we can develop any sport. We should create a culture of sports where from an early age kids are being engaged in a systematic structure for football,” he said.
The AIFF general secretary also spoke about plans for women having a similar league structure as to the men.
“The AIFF has U-18, U-15 and U-13 leagues and plans to start baby leagues soon. It is only a matter of time before Indian football goes to the next level through this structure of football that has been implemented for men and a similar structure will be setup for Women’s football,” he stated.
"The baby leagues have been trialled in a few pockets as of now but we aim to take it all over India," Das added.
During the conclave, Das mentioned that while there been no shortage of effort from the governing body over the years, it had not translated into performance. He did however say that it was only a matter of time.
“We have been able to transform the setup of Indian football into a proper structure and it is only a matter of time before Indian football goes to the next level," he remarked.
While speaking about the National Sports Policy, Das explained that the lack of conformity across the central and state federations was an issue.
“There are double standards for the state and central federations. Restrictions on age and tenure apply at the national federations but they are not present at the state level. This is fundamentally wrong,” he said.
The convention was attended by Minister of State for Sport Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, former India captain Baichung Bhutia, FIFA U-17 World Cup tournament directors Javier Ceppi and Joy Bhattacharya among other others as discussions ranged from the challenges facing the football industry in the country to steps which can be taken to mitigate them.