In what has been a historic day for Indian football, Praful Patel, who serves as the President of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), has been elected as a FIFA Council member for a period of four years.
The AIFF President recieved an overwhelming majority in the elections held at Kuala Lumpur, garnering 38 out of 46 votes.
Patel expressed his delight at the performances of the Indian junior teams and the women’s team who are currently playing the Olympic qualifiers. The India U20 team defeated Argentina U20 team which was coached by Lionel Scaloni and drew with Venezuela's U20 team last year.
The youngsters, Indian Arrows, have also impressed in the I-League where they finished eighth ahead of established teams and they went on to knock out Indian Super League (ISL) side Kerala Blasters in the Super Cup.
The AIFF supremo was pleased with the work done by General Secretary Kushal Das and the Director of National Teams, Abhishek Yadav, for their vision and hard work.
“Our U20 team is also doing very well as they beat Argentina and drew with Venezuela. So it shows that the young team of India when they become the senior team will be truly a team which can qualify for the World Cup,” Patel told Goal as he reiterated that India needs to aim for the World Cup given that the tournament would eventually be expanded to 48 teams.
India’s women team has been playing several international games and competitions lately and Patel highlighted there is an immense opportunity to grow the game further. In the last three months, India women have played over 15 international games. in fact, India hosted its first-ever quadrangular tournament this season.
Under the leadership of Patel and Das, AIFF has have focused on restructuring and developing women's football, which is evident to see.
He also shared his insights on why Indian football is certainly growing in the right direction which would benefit all stakeholders. Under Patel’s leadership, India has already hosted the Under-17 World Cup in 2017 and would now host the girls edition next year.
“We are one of the few countries that have a women's football team which is ranked around 60 in the world. And also we have women's league and also various age-group leagues are coming up.
"Also, the fact that the Under-17 World Cup. we will have the opportunity to nurture young girl talent and make them ready for international competitions. These are positive steps which will ensure that Indian football is moving in the right direction,” observed Patel.