I have spotted some exceptional boys: O’Donell

 Nilanjan Datta

Even as 590 kids from all over the Country play football in ‘the best ground of the country’ in the AIFF U-14 Football Fest, the AIFF spotters keep a close eye on all of them. Scott O’Donell, Technical Manager, Regional and Elite Academies spoke at length to www.the-aiff.com on the significance of the Fest, the plans ahead and other related issues. EXCERPTS:

Scott O’Donell
What is the significance of the AIFF U-14 Football Fest?
The Fest forms an integral part of the selection for the future National Team. At the moment, we would be recruiting boys for the Regional Academies from the Fest. There are State Teams who are making a significant progress on the field as we are progressing. The momentum is picking up.

Are you impressed with the quality of the boys?
This is just the second day of the Fest. As we progress, we would be having stronger teams playing against each other. That would be fun. But yeah, the quality of some boys from Mizoram and Meghalaya, have been exceptional.

Do such Fests form the bedrock in developed Footballing Nations?
Not always. For example, in Australia, the National Championships form the platform for the future. In an ideal situation, the best talent was supposed to be at such a tournament. But I understand that doesn’t always happen here. Hence, we are looking for more options.

What’s your take on the Premier League Soccer?
I am amazed at the amount of money that’s involved in it. The salary being offered to a single player can give us a few turfs for the kids to train. If there’s any future of football in India, it lies in the Youth Development Programme. It needs to be a long-term plan. But sadly, not all realise that. I personally believe, if you invest in such a concept, it won’t help Indian Football at all.