Two-month long camp awaits the selected kids: Toal

Nilanjan Datta

The ending of the AIFF U-14 Football Fest marks a new beginning for Indian Football. With the Regional Academies knocking at the door, Colm Joseph Toal, Head Coach, Youth Development spoke at length to on the number of boys spotted, the selection procedure for the Academies and much more. EXCERPTS:

Colm Joseph Toal interacts with the U-14 boys from the West Bengal Team
There were nine selectors in the AFC U-14 Fest in Kalyani. How many boys have they spotted?
The nine selectors have had a close look at all the boys and we have spotted 75 boys from different state teams who would be a part of a future Coaching-cum-Selection Camp beginning in March.

How long would the Camp last? Would you have a look at more boys in the Camp?
We intend to begin the Camp from the second week of March. The 75 boys chosen from the Fest would be there for three weeks from which 30 boys would be shortlisted. The shortlisted 30 kids would represent India in the AFC U-14 Fest scheduled to be held in Kathmandu.

The 30 boys would then be joined by a new bunch. The lot would comprise of boys chosen from the Subroto Cup, the U-16 Nationals (boys born in 1998) and the set of boys chosen by Scott O’Donell from Open Trials. The Camp would go on till mid-May form which the batches for the Regional Academies would be finalised.

Are you satisfied with the quality of the boys you have chosen from the AIFF U-14 Fest?
The boys are good but are not necessarily the best in the country. The same pertains to the set of boys who were shortlisted from the U-16 National Championship. It’s unfortunate the State Associations are not selecting and sending their best teams for such Championships.

Could you elaborate?
I can give you an example. The Meghalaya State Football Association had a three-week Preparatory Camp ahead of the AIFF U-14 Fest. They had 18 district teams playing against each other from where they selected the best boys. And it’s evident in their play in Kalyani. Had all State Associations addressed it likewise, we could have got the best boys playing here.

Are you happy with the manner the AIFF U-14 Fest has been conducted?
Kalyani is a small suburban town and arranging a fest of such a magnitude without any hiccups speaks volumes for the organisers. We shouldn’t forget we had 590 boys from 27 State Teams staying, eating, travelling and playing together.

I wish we had more fields of the same quality in other States as the two playing fields at the Kalyani Stadium. The infrastructure here is magnificent.