Senior Vice President Aall India Football Federation (AIFF) Subrata Dutta is on a visit to Kashmir to oversee promotion and development of football across JK.
In a freewheeling chat with Badrul Duja, Dutta talks about AIFF’s football developmental plans for the state and how Indian football will improve its ranking at International level.
Footballers often work hard to get jobs in J&K Bank, J&K Police or other departments in J&K. How can AIFF change their vision when they can think of playing i-leagues?
If boys are playing football for job or for reservations in educational institutions, I don’t blame them or their parents as their concern is to carve out career for them for livelihood.
However, the players who play league matches earn more money than a normal bank or government employee.
Such players have fame and money and also become source of inspiration for others.
How can AIFF spot talent at grassroot level?
School children are playing with passion and love but they don’t know how to pursue this sport ahead.
We have to bring them into mainstream sports by providing them a proper roadmap. Not only school children but their parents also have to be involved.
At AIFF, we will register them with clubs and create competitions at their tender age.
Age group football tournaments are also required for junior football. Under 13, Under 16, Under 18 tournaments with several divisions will be held to provide them competitive events.
There has to be baby leagues for primary children of 3 years of age to 7 year olds. These leagues can be played in small grounds in schools also. Kids should love sport and sleep with the ball. They should be dreaming about playing football and let football be their toy.
Will AIFF ensure that such ideas are implemented in Kashmir?
FIFA is supporting our new developmental plan where AIFF has appointed Football Development Officer Bilal Punjabi for Kashmir region who will work with AIFFs Development manager Rohan Reddy for the development and promotion of football in Kashmir region.
Under this project, we will pay for the salary of this officer and we are introducing baby football leagues in Kashmir across all districts as part of development plan for Kashmir.
For each baby league, a sum of Rs 85000 has also been earmarked.
How do you see game of footfall in J&K compared to other states?
Success of Real Kashmir is in front of you. They are qualified to play senior division of I–League. Matches of I-League will also be played in Kashmir.
Kashmiri football lovers have to support Real Kashmir FC as it represents Kashmir and help them win more matches with their support.
You may soon see Real Kashmir surging closer to wining I–league cup.
What about state of Indian football team at International level? When do you see India playing World Cup?
Our target is 2026 WC, as FIFA has decided that 48 countries will play 2026 WC in which 8 Asian countries will participate.
India’s ranks 14th Asian football playing countries. We have to improve from 14 to get into the list of 8. That’s our challenge and as per FIFA ranking we have improved from 173 rank to 96 rank.
If we focus on under 15 and under 17 tournaments, I see no reason why we can’t play 2026 World Cup.