Arsene Wenger Hopes to Put ‘India Back on the Map’ as AIFF Signs MoU with Odisha Gov for FIFA-AIFF Academy


Last Updated: November 21, 2023, 17:08 IST

The AIFF and the Government of Odisha, signed a MoU in the presence of Arsene Wenger (AIFF Image)

AIFF signed a MoU with the Odisha Government, in the presence of Arsene Wenger, to set up the FIFA-AIFF Academy.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the Government of Odisha, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), in the presence of Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, to set up the AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy at the Odisha Football Academy in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.

The MoU between the two was signed by the AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey as R Vineel Krishna, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Department of Sports and Youth Services, Government of Odisha as well as Tushar Kanti Behera, Sports Minister of Odisha were present.

“We have realised that among 211 countries, over 150 have no real youth system in place and the best countries in the world have the best education system for young players. So, on the other hand, many talents in the world don’t get the chance. So we created a programme that is called. Every talent in the world, a chance And that’s what our programme is all about is to identify the talent in India, to put the best talents together in a good coaching programme, good education,” Wenger said after signing the AIFF-FIFA MoU on Tuesday.

“How long it could take, we don’t know, but without education, we’ll remain where we are. Our target is to get India back on the map. No country has more rights than any other to be on the top. Our huge effort is to educate children to get them as good as they can be. You cannot start to play football at 15, you need to start at five or six,” he said.

“The potential in India is huge, because it’s a big country of 1.4 billion. That means you have the potential to be on top of the world. That’s what we want to achieve together. One thing is for sure, if you don’t educate, you will remain where you are at the moment. Our target is to grow top quality players here and get India on the map as one of the best countries in the world,” FIFA’s current Chief of Global Football Development added.

AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey said, “His (Arsene Wenger)guidance, leadership, technical plan and strategy will help India dream. Let’s take a small step and qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup on merit, and soon the senior FIFA World Cup. I have high expectations through the AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy that we will get our best U-17 team in the coming three years,”

AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey also reasoned that before India plays in the FIFA World Cup, the country’s age category sides have to qualify for the international competitions on merit.

“It is a very common question to AIFF president when will India play World Cup in senior level? Let’s have a small step towards U-17 World Cup. Thereafter they can take next steps and be one of the greatest in World Football. I have high hopes by presence of Arsene Wenger through this AIFF-FIFA academy. We can definitely get our best national team in the under-17 category in next three years,” Kalyan Chaubey said.

R Vineel Krishna said, “It’s a great honour to have Mr. Wenger here in Odisha. There’s a lot of excitement for your visit. You’ve been an inspiration to football lovers across the globe. We are sincerely thankful to you and FIFA for selecting Bhubaneswar as the AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy.”

Tushar Kanti Behera said, “The AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy is the first of its kind in India, which is a testament to Odisha’s rapidly-growing standards as a global sports hub. “After the ceremony, Mr. Wenger watched budding footballers under the FIFA Talent Development Scheme, training at the adjacent ground. He also interacted with the coaches involved in the training.

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