World class football academy to be set up in Vadodara soon
New Delhi: A national football academy, that will be at par with the best in the world, will soon come up in a township in Vadodara, which is expected to provide a much-needed fillip to the sport in India.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF), along with its commercial and marketing partner IMG-Reliance, on Thursday presented a 360 degree plan of football development in India with a common vision of the country participating in the 2026 World Cup.
"Reliance Industries is donating its township facility in Vadodara free of cost for setting up a national academy at par with the best in the world," a source in the know of things, told PTI.
The AIFF`s commercial partner is in touch with an international group that specialises in setting up world class football academies and running them.
"They are seeking partnership with international group with proven record to ensure high-quality coaching. The academies set up by this group have produced many world class players," the source said.
The township already has four-five football grounds and according to the IMG-Reliance group, building an academy there would be easy.
Besides setting up the academy, both the AIFF and IMG-Reliance are working towards refurbishing the existing stadiums. Discussions are in progress with state associations to push for stadium refurbishments.
"There are groups who have been visiting all the stadiums. Right from seating arrangement to playing fields, everything would be taken care of," the source said.
3As far as the academy is concerned, the goal is to have 80 per cent of national team players from the academy within the next 10 years.
IMG-Reliance will also provide scholarships to 16 talented football players, which will include full-time training and academic education at IMG Academy in Florida.
Regarding India`s wish to qualify for the 2026 World Cup, the AIFF and its commercial partner said the country will need a boost from "bottom of the pyramid" as well as at the top simultaneously.
The plan also is to improve and build international level football infrastructure to position India as a preferred destination for hosting AFC and FIFA tournaments, and friendly matches involving the world`s best clubs.
As part of its plan to make Indian football viable, they are focusing on the I-League. Things like how to make it more popular among fans, ensure capacity crowds, get broadcast partner and rope in sponsors were discussed in the meeting.
The I-League is being fully sponsored by IMG-Reliance.