AIFF officials want professionals to run Bharati Academy

January 19th, 2009 - 6:48 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) Now that All India Football Federation (AIFF) acting president Praful Patel has said that the work on the proposed Bharati-AIFF academy in Goa will kick-off by this month-end, his colleagues in the federation are keen that it should be run professionally.Three senior members of the AIFF, all vice-presidents, have talked of corporatised professional set-up to administer the Rs. 1-billion state-of-the-art academy funded by telecom major Bharatis. They all want total transparency in the project, the first of its kind in India. Also up in arms are some officials of the Goa Football Association (GFA) who said the matter was kept under wraps.

A brainchild of AIFF president Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, the project was to start in last March but ran into rough weather with two powerful Goan politicians locking horns. Local sentiments have also been aroused to block the academy from coming up at Cuncolim on 126,000 square metres.

The tussle between the GFA chief, who is also the minister for urban development, Joaquim Alemao and housing minister Mickky Pacheco turned into a war of words and inordinate delay in the clearance. Pacheco claimed that the land belonged to his department and accused Alemao of illegally transferring the land for the academy.

Interestingly, both Alemao, who is the MLA from Cuncolim, and Pacheco are bitter rivals in Goan football. Alemao is associated with the Churchill Brothers and Pacheco once ran the now defunct Fransa Pax.

Eventually, Patel, who is a senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, prevailed upon his partyman Pacheco to relent and the housing minister promised to send the file back to the state cabinet for clearance.

Welcoming the development, AIFF vice-president Subrata Dutta stated that time has come for AIFF to get down to the nitty-gritty and make sure that the academy was run by a professional set-up.

“The academy set-up will be discussed at Wednesday’s executive committee meeting here. With the kind of money being sunk in the project, there cannot be any slip-up,” Dutta told IANS.

Dutta was supported by two other newly appointed vice-presidents A.R. Khaleel (Karnataka) and Ankur Dutta (Assam) who said that the academy should be run by people who are experts in the field.

A section of people in Cuncolim are not exactly happy with the turn of events. They want the academy, but at the same time they also expect some benefits for the locals from the project.

Alemao’s constituents are unhappy with him as he had gone back on his promise made during the election campaign that he would have an educational institution in the area now earmarked for the academy.

“We suspect that Joaquim has a vested interest in the football academy, otherwise he would not have gone back on his promise,” said Jorson Fernandes, who is spearheading the protest under the banner of Cuncolim Citizens’ Action Front.

The GFA officials said they had been kept in the dark by the AIFF and Alemao on the academy.

“The matter never came up for discussion at GFA executive committee meetings. We don’t know what is happening,” an executive committee member of the GFA said.

When contacted Joaquim refused to talk on the subject.

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