Published on March 6, 2014
All India Football Federation Grassroots Development Program
Overview of the program: AIFF aligns itself with the FIFA definition of Grassroots football: Football for kids (boys and girls) between 6-12 years of age. AIFF Grassroots Development Program started in December 2012 Program is driven primarily through the State Football Associations, but is inclusive of all stakeholders: - Football clubs: amateur and professional - Schools - NGOs and Community initiatives Program has rapidly expanded, now spread to 6 States in India in little over a year. Mizoram, Manipur, Maharashtra, Goa, Chandigarh and Kerala have adopted the GR program for the long term.
Some key achievements of the AIFF GR Program: AIFF finished second in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Annual Awards 2013 in the ‘Grassroots Member Association of the year’ category AIFF have now partnered with the Football Federation of Australia through the Australian Sports Outreach Program to further the Grassroots initiatives in India. FIFA and AFC too have recognized AIFF’s efforts in GR and extended significant support for the program.
Key features of Grassroots football: FIFA defines Grassroots football as: “To allow access to football to a child in his/her own environment.” Attract young players to the sport, create a fun, safe and positive environment for the child Inclusive: football is for everyone, irrespective of skin color, gender, ethnicity, nationality etc. Grassroots football can be played anywhere and everywhere, consists of small-sided games and age specific activities. Development before winning: ensure developmental objectives are met before winning. Allows for flexible organization and with modest requirements.
Key topics to be discussed today: Locate and establish the importance of Grassroots football in an Indian context Importance and benefits of a federated structure for effective implementation of Grassroots programs.
Grassroots football: Position of GR within football pyramid National Team Professional Football Semiprofessional/Amateur Academies/Youth Football Grassroots football
Grassroots football forms the base of the football playing pyramid. A strong foundation provides for a strong football structure. Benefits all levels of the game. Important to focus on Grassroots football as it has visible football and societal benefits, both being significant in a country like India.
Importance and benefits of a good Grassroots program in an Indian context: Football benefits of a good Grassroots program: FIFA states the ‘golden age of learning is between 8-12 years of age.’ Increases participation in the sport; more children will have regular access to football Widens base of football pyramid, more participants playing regularly will give a bigger and hopefully better talent pool. Helps identify talent and guide them through pathway for elite football. Allows young and eager coaches to get involved Early introduction of children to football will help develop an affinity and loyalty towards the game; can lead to long term involvement in the game in various capacities.
Continued.. Societal benefits: Football is the best teacher, teaches the values of life. Football has the power to change lives and make a significant difference to people across the world; it’s important to harness that power to achieve social change. Excellent platform to inculcate good social values and skills in kids, such as mutual respect, team-work etc Personal development such as confidence building, free expression etc Emphasizes the importance of healthy lifestyle early amongst kids, through exercise and regular playing throughout the year. Grassroots coaches can also introduce the importance of nutrition to parents.
Structure of AIFF Grassroots program: Structure of Grassroots Program of the AIFF: AIFF GR program driven primarily through the State Associations under the overall umbrella of the AIFF. AIFF members: State Football Associations and Union Territory Football Associations plus Services Sports Control Board and Railways Sports Board. A Federated structure allows the AIFF to create and implement an inclusive program in each State, together with the State Association, with involvement of key stakeholders: football clubs, schools, NGO and community initiatives. Currently 6 States have adopted the program full time, AIFF aims to implement the GR programs in all States in the long term. Full time personnel: Each project State has a State Development Officer full time who works with the State Association closely to implement and monitor the Grassroots program
Benefits of having a Federated Structure for Grassroots football Each State has different conditions and requirements with regard to Grassroots football, objective is to be able to provide solutions and plans accordingly. Eg: Maharashtra and Mizoram, both existing AIFF GR projects have populations of 110 million and 1 million respectively! State Football Associations are best placed to understand and address the needs of their state. Easy accessibility and better connect with all key football stakeholders within each State. Better administration, Governance and monitoring of the project, can address all aspects of GR effectively. Through a unique concept of ‘GR centre certification program’, school, clubs, NGOs etc currently running Grassroots programs can get their centres certified and become part of mainstream GR activities of the State Associations and AIFF.
All India Football Federation State Football Association District Football Association Schools Football Clubs (amateur and professional) NGOs and community initiatives
It is vitally important that all stakeholders work closely with the State Associations and the AIFF to create a inclusive, sustainable and strong Grassroots football structure.
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