Selby lavishes praise on AIFF initiatives

Nilanjan Datta

All India Football Federation’s inaugural Inter Academy Tournament came in for lavish praise from Asian Football Confederation Technical Director Mr. Jim Selby. Selby was here in person to watch the three Regional Academies play against each other for the last three days.

AFC Technical Director Jim Selby and Scott O’Donell with coaches and AIFF Regional Academy boys
In an interactive session with the boys at the sprawling Pailan World School campus which houses the second AIFF Regional Academy, Selby said: “You are in no way inferior to your contemporaries who are in Spain or Germany. All you need to do is do practice.”

“If you are not giving your best on a day, it means you will be falling behind your rivals by a day. Then, you will have to play catch up. There can be no compromise as far as practice is concerned,” he added. “You will determine your own destiny,” he stressed.

“The Asian Football Confederation is aware of the potential of success which lie within India,” he informed. “I have had discussions with both Rob Baan and Scott O’Donell and some strategies have been chalked out which will be implemented in 2013. The global trend stays to develop the local instructors,” he stressed.

“I have had a close look at the AIFF Regional Academy boys. As I see boys of such age-groups all over the World, I can tell you they have the potential to compete against the best in the future. But development process takes time,” he opined. “I commend the AIFF and FIFA for launching this initiative. Developed Footballing Nations started it some 30-40 years back. And they are now enjoying their harvest.”

For Scott O’Donell, Technical Director, AIFF Regional and Elite Academies, it couldn’t have been more satisfying. Since a year he has been a part of AIFF, the Aussie has been living out of a suitcase and travelling to every remote corner of the country to scout talent for the Academies. “It’s satisfying indeed,” he smiles. “This is the first of its kind and we intend to have four in a year,” he adds. “But yeah, it’s early days,” he smiles again.

“You see the boys playing to the philosophy we have been stressing upon. They are thinking on the field. Even the goalkeeper stays so much involved in the buildups,” he describes the new philosophy. “In the future, we plan to invite even the private Academies to play in the Tournament. We need to involve others and build relationships.”

“Women’s football has a very bright future in India. It’s an untapped market. Given India’s population, the numbers stay high,” Selby joins the discussion again. “It’s a huge opportunity.” “I have gone through the Master Plan drafted by Rob Baan. Adaptation of the same within different states in India stays the key at the moment,” he felt.