February 4, 2009 12:16:31 am
The simultaneous selections of Delhi and Manipur in 2005 for the Asian Football Confederations (AFCs) Vision India project didnt necessarily spark hurried arrangements and hence development in either state,but the ways both have handled the priorities set by the AFC,are a study in contrast.
Football-rich Manipur,surprisingly,didnt have a state league of its own as the game was played at district levels,but this fundamental pitfall was immediately taken care of. Just on this point,Delhi could have been easily assumed to be ahead of the north-eastern state as club football was the only identity of the game in the city. The primary issue for the Capital was entirely different: Constitutional changes.
We shouldnt compare the progress in both states as the situations were different and hence the solutions. By 2006,Manipur had hosted its first club league comprising 12 teams. For Delhi,the first step has been the changes recommended by the AFC. Compared to other associations,Delhis constitution is advanced and the changes required too are very little, said Shaji Prabhakaran,director of the Vision India project.
The amendments may include the appointment of certain committees,a full-time functioning general secretary,incorporation of more professional staff and so on in the lines of the functioning of the AIFF. Its been a time span of four years (2005-09) and still waiting for the Capitals football operators to materialise the all-important first step but they say they are genuinely waiting,literally.
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When we last attended AFCs workshop last July,they were totally committed to get the amendments done. They had also sent an official here whom we have handed over a draft stating the required modifications. After that we havent received a reply from them, said NK Bhatia,secretary of the Delhi Soccer Association. And the duration,Bhatia says,is due the negotiations between DSA and the clubs and AFC.
Most of the clubs werent financially prepared to follow the guidelines. So at least twice or thrice they (AFC) have talked with the clubs. Weve also requested the AFC to show a bit of leniency All this needed time and now most of our major clubs fulfil the criteria, he added.
DSAs defence can appear like a blunt end to the story,but theres a rider. DSA started off with its youth programme that included 48 schools,a step that ended rather abruptly. The initiative shouldve continued. They (DSA) said they have some constraints, Prabhakaran adds.
The DSA,however,rejects the closure of the youth development programme,citing the Manchester United Premier Cup,Arsenal Soccer Cup as an integral part of it. “These tournaments are a part of the youth programme only. It’d be wrong to say that it has ended abruptly. In fact,we weren’t told anything by the AIFF. Anyway,this years changes in the league format is a proof of the step forward, Bhatia said.
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