AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das, in his presentation ‘Strategy and Key Priorities 2015-2018,’ laid out plans for developing Women’s Football in the next four years according to the AIFF Strategic Plan 2014-17.
Speaking at the ongoing FIFA Women’s Regional Development Seminar and India Development Workshop in New Delhi, the General Secretary charted out several aspects in the offing for the next four years, all necessary for the improvement of Women’s Football as a whole. From building respect for women and creating social awareness, to aiming to see the Eves in Blue rise till 40th in FIFA Rankings and eighth in Asia, Mr. Das elaborated on the roadmap ahead and how it can be achieved with the help of all stakeholders.
“Developing Women’s Football means not only on the field but off it too. Social development, respect for Women are also issues that need to be dealt with,” Mr. Das said. “Unfortunately in India we don’t see a lot of respect for Women and that mindset needs to change for the sport to develop.”
“Among the 13 strategic goals in the Strategic Plan, Women’s Football is right up there. By 2017 we aim to be among the top 8 in Asia which is realistically very much possible.”
About the inaugural Women’s League earmarked to start in 2015, Mr. Das, informed: “We are planning to have a structured Women’s League provided all stakeholders support us. In Women’s Football we have a lot of States which are much ahead than others, thus forcing lopsided results in many of the Nationals’ matches. In order to bring parity we can take a leaf out of ISL (Indian Super League) book by having a Player draft system where say eight franchises taking out the best 180 players.
“This will cost us a million and we need all Clubs and State Associations to support us wholeheartedly. At the moment few Clubs have shown interest in creating Women’s Teams but we need all of them on board to go ahead.
“Lack of finances is a big hurdle.”
As far as the Youth Teams are concerned, Mr. Das targeted 2017 as the year when both U-16 and U-19 National Teams should qualify for AFC Women’s Championships.
“We need to qualify for AFC Youth Championships as well as the Senior Championship (AFC Women’s Asian Cup) by that year.”
“To achieve all this in the next four years we now have a dedicated Women’s Team Department under the AIFF’s Development wing which is looked after by our Academies Technical Director and Director of Coach Education, Mr. Scott O’Donell. This is a consciously taken decision to integrate Women’s development process with the overall development process at the Governing Body.”