FIFA and the AIFF has chosen Mizoram as the only state not designated to host the under-17 World Cup matches for a State FA Development Project that will seek to professionalise associations by providing them technical and management experts.
“Selecting Mizoram for the pilot project was not a difficult choice,” Shaji Prabhakaran, FIFA’s Regional Development Officer for South and Central Asia, told journalists in Aizawl on Thursday.
He credited the Mizoram Football Association, football clubs and the government of coordinating well for the sport, and said even sports infeastructure in the state is developed keeping in mind the constraints the remote and financially strapped state faces.
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The pilot project to overhaul the state’s football association would begin in September when the two experts arrive and the MFA draws up a progress plan that will be subject to edits and changes, Prabhakaran said.
He added progress would be evaluated after six months and the project taken forward if it is found parameters are met.
He declined to disclose the exact budget set aside for the project that will overhaul Football Associations in seven Indian states with an aim to make them self-sustaining.
Meanwhile, the I-League’s top executive has said the ground at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor stadium in Aizawl is fit to host I-League matches but more work needs to be done on the audience galleries, dressing rooms and other aspects, I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said Thursday.
Aizawl FC became the first club from Mizoram to qualify for the prestigious I-League, and the club is set to host home matches at the stadium beginning January.
Dhar said the state government, which owns the stadium, has been positive in developing the stadium to meet the league’s standards and that AIFF and I-League officials would visit again in November for a final assessment.
“We are extremely excited to have a new venue where football is the number one sport,” said Dhar, referring to the huge following the sport enjoys in Mizoram, unlike most other parts of India where Cricket is the most popular game.