Asian football body unhappy with Delhi project

August 1st, 2008 - 4:52 pm ICT by IANS  

By Abhishek Roy
Hyderabad, Aug 1 (IANS) Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) ambitious project in Delhi to raise the standard of the sport is suffering due to the apathy of the local administration, says AFC general secretary Paul Mony Samuel. The Delhi pilot-project, part of AFC’s Vision India programme under ‘Vision Asia’, was first launched in the Indian capital and the north-eastern state of Manipur in 2005.

While Manipur has successfully fulfilled all the criteria, including hosting of two state leagues after adopting the programme, Delhi has disappointed and has failed to even get its city league organised according to the guidelines of the programme.

Samuel said the response from authorities in Delhi for the programme has been lukewarm. In complete contrast, the state government in Manipur has tried its best to ensure that the local league is successful.

“Recently we had a meeting with officials of Delhi Soccer Association (DSA) at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. They wanted to start a 14-team league. But I asked them whether they have enough grounds to play the matches on home and away basis. But they don’t have. If you don’t have enough grounds how can you start a professional league? Compared to other projects Delhi is moving at a slow pace,” Samuel told IANS.

The Malaysian also said that the Manipur pilot-project was successful because all the stakeholders including the state government took interest to support the game.

“When I went to Manipur, I was surprised to see that many government officials including the ministers took keen interest to make the project successful at any cost. And it actually happened. The advantage was that football is the biggest sport in Manipur and it is also a part of their daily life. That acted as a catalyst,” Samuel added.

He lauded the All Manipur Football Association (AMFA) for successfully conducting the Manipur State League on the guidelines of Vision India for the past two years.

“With strong commitment and leadership of AMFA, the Manipur State League has become a model of success and one that needs to be emulated in many states across India,” he said.

On the Delhi pilot-project, Samuel said: “I have been assured by the DSA that they will fulfil all the guidelines. So I will wait till November-December to see if they fulfil all their commitments, before taking any further action.”

This year the AFC extended its Vision India project to Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the general secretary seemed happy with the response from the states.

“Like Manpiur, there is the same kind of interest in Kerala as well. If I am not wrong, Kerala had some good players in the past and is still producing many. But unfortunately all the players migrate to play for clubs in other states.

“But from this year we will start a revamped Kerala football league and the school league has already started in the seven districts of the state,” Samuel said.

In the school league, eight schools from each of the 14 districts will be in action in the first year, involving some 2,240 boys in the 10-11 age-group.

“Due to some administrative problems the start of the league in the adjoining state of Tamil Nadu has been put off until 2009 but the schools league will be up and running as scheduled from October,” he added.

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