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Indian Football : Arrows definitely not in a crisis

Indian Arrows : Practice in Pailan

Indian Arrows : Practice in Pailan

Refuting recent media reports, the General Secretary of AIFF Mr. Kushal Das stated that Pailan Indian Arrows is definitely on course to produce the next set of Jeje Lalpekluas, Raju Gaikwads and Jewel Rajas. “This is a developmental project ably supported by our partner, the Pailan Group and I’m sure it will continue to produce even better results than the first year,” he said. Such reports about “poor and chaotic planning” are baseless, factually incorrect and quite unnecessarily create a negative perception. We certainly have a very good plan in place, he added.

Visionaries dare to take decisions and make things happen; results just follow. In an attempt to Catch ’em Young, Mr. Praful Patel, President of the All India Football Federation, taking a leaf out of Late Sir Alfred Ernest “Alf” Ramsey’s famous quote, floated the idea of an U-21 ‘AIFF XI’ in the I-League in 2010.

Ramsey, who won the 1966 World Cup as Manager of England, used to say: “The character of a footballing Nation is judged by its ability to sustain the momentum. Results bother monkeys; fling them aside.”

The AIFF President thought likewise. That football is all about the pipeline – the supply-line which feeds the Senior National Team, he knew. Nevertheless, there were apprehensions. And they linger on despite the ‘AIFF XI,’ later re-christened as Indian Arrows finishing 9th among 14 I-League Teams.

Planning ahead for the future, the AIFF had intended to keep the entire squad together for another year. The initiative was taken by none other than the AIFF President himself who has requested all the Clubs to release their Players on loan for another year in the interest of development of Indian Football.’

In the meeting in Delhi earlier this month the President made this request t to the clubs from whom players had been taken on loan. Unfortunately for various reasons the clubs were unable to accede to this request and accordingly the players were allowed to go back but there was always a back-up plan.

Indian Arrows is a developmental squad whose main objective remains to develop and create players for the national side. Last season, a lot of young and unheralded players were drafted into the Arrows squad and by the end of the season; seven players from the batch have already represented the Indian Senior National Team and twelve in the U-23 Pre-Olympic Qualifiers. Presently, all are stars in their own right.

The AIFF, in an effort to sustain the momentum, have already roped in players from all over and have even retained some of the existing ‘Arrows’ with new contracts. The search is on for more and as was done last season, the gap will be bridged by U-19 Players who are presently training under Mr. Colm Toal in Shanghai for the Weifang Cup.

The AIFF is actively in discussing with Pailan to set up an elite academy and very soon the Pailan World School may well become the hub for football development in India.

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