February 24 – India has launched a grassroots participation initiative that will reach millions of children across the country as part of its bid to host the 2027 Asian Cup.
The new scheme to be launched by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is supported by the Indian government and will see new leagues launched for 6–12-year-olds as well as ‘Football for Fun’ camps and workshops in schools across the country,
An AiFF press release said: “Both programmes will accelerate the Indian Government’s mission of increasing participation and developing the country into a sporting powerhouse through national initiatives “Khelo (Play) India” and “Fit India”. Significant investment will be made to increase grassroots sport participation and improve sporting infrastructure and talent identification pathways across the country.”
India argues that hosting the Asian Cup in 2027 would open up the world’s second largest country of 1.3 billion people to new commercial opportunities. “The slogan, Brighter Future Together, highlights the unparalleled opportunity the bid presents for AIFF and AFC to take Indian and Asian football to the next level,” says the Indian bid.
AIFF said that it is set to beat its target of growing participation in youth leagues ten-fold to 2,000 teams by 2022, announced as part of AIFF’s strategic plan 2.0 for the period 2019 – 2022.
President of AIFF and FIFA Council Member, Praful Patel, said: “We are committed to accelerating the development of the footballing ecosystem in India and are focussed on increasing participation at all levels. Through our strategic and sustainable football development plans, we aim to leave a long-lasting legacy and become a leading football nation in Asia in the coming 10 years.”
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