Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003
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By Our Sports Reporter
The National body has drawn up elaborate plans centring around age-group events, to initiate a sustained developmental effort in the junior and sub-junior levels, that will bring about desired improvement in the standard of the sport, disclosed the AIFF secretary, Mr. Alberto Colaco here on Monday.
Having overseen the successful launch of the four-day long `Fitness for Football' programme, the AIFF secretary settled down to reflect on the ways to sustain the developmental programme down the junior level, which would be the priority for the National body than just organising tournaments.
The National soccer calendar, which is under review to incorporate certain changes in the country's foreign assignments (mainly the LG Cup that has been brought ahead to the earlier part of August), will have three new tournaments to widen the scope of tapping young talents at the zonal level.
With the zonal qualifiers already in vogue in junior and sub-junior level State meets, the secretary spoke of having inter-zonal contests for the under-16 and under-19 categories, somewhat on the lines of Duleep Trophy in cricket.
The zonal teams will be selected from the inter-State meets during the qualifiers and a separate inter-zonal tournament will be held after a brief training programme for the selected players. This will widen the scope of the sport, he said.
Mr. Colaco added that AIFF plans to reach a more rudimentary level by starting a National inter-school tournament for under-13 players apart from the zonal events. The tournament will start in the State level involving the local schools with each State champion progressing to play for the National title. Efforts are on to introduce these tournaments from this season onwards, the secretary said.
Mr. Colaco said that the ongoing fitness programme here is the first and expansive effort at having a scientific approach to the game. With other sports like cricket and hockey gaining a lot from adopting such scientific modules, it was necessary to introduce a similar programme in football, he said.
Citing East Bengal's example of hiring South African physical trainer Kevin Jackson, who has been employed by the NFL champion to condition the team ahead of the season, Mr. Colaco said that there is a proactive change in the attitude of the major National clubs, most of who are now amenable to scientific coaching methods. This is a definitive attitudinal change in the club level and the AIFF is trying to spread it all over the country, he said.
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