Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju on Friday said that developing football at the grassroots level by organising local football leagues is the way forward to develop the sport in the country.
The Sports Minister was addressing a 700-strong online audience of football coaches from across the country. The online sessions are being jointly organised by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
"Introducing football at the school level and organising local football leagues is the way forward to build interest in the game among children across the country. Once we mass-base the game, then we can start scouting for talent and building up elite footballers," said Rijiju during the session.
Rijiju also ensured that all resources will be made available to the football bodies at the state and district level.
"As the government, we can ensure that all resources will be made available and there will be enough financial support, but we need the football bodies at the state and district level to actively organise more events to popularise the sport and draw out more talent. We also need corporates to come forward to sponsor leagues at all levels," he said.
Rijiju also stressed over the need for a proper roadmap to take football ahead as he said: "After the Covid19 issue is over, I would like to meet the heads of the state federations, top coaches and technical officials so that we can draw up a plan." "Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Khelo India Scheme, which has caught the imagination of the country and is playing a big role in identifying and funding talent in all sports. We are going to fund many more football activities through Khelo India also." Indian football team's coach, Igor Stimac, also joined the session. "I would like to thank the Minister for the constant support that football has been receiving from the Ministry and SAI," Stimac said.