To become a successful Footballing Nation and be able to compete against the best, it is clear that All India Football Federation needs to focus on Youth Development (NYDP).
The NYDP will be the guideline for all stakeholders of football Youth Development in India. This NYDP is not just meant for the most talented players; it will give all players, with abundant or limited talent, the chance to play and train. In addition to providing us information on players who just want to play for fun and recreation, the NYDP will also provide promising talents a platform and pathway to play at their highest possible level.
The plan will provide a complete vision of youth football; it will bring structure in Youth Competitions, Coach Education for Youth Coaches and Referee Education for Youth Referees. All parties will find in this plan the most relevant information about talent identification, Youth Training and Coaching and a match plan for youth teams.
Once this plan is implemented, it needs to be evaluated on an annual basis so that it can be updated as per the latest developments.
The development of young players in any country goes hand-in-hand with the development of Coaches. After all, it is the Coaches who will be most closely involved in the development of players.
At the same time, the most promising talents must be identified and trained in a structured manner so as to utilise the efforts of the coaching fraternity more effectively. Accordingly, the NYDP will aim to focus on both aspects equally.
As far as identification of young talented players is concerned, two major age groups require specific attention:
— Grassroots level: > 6 to 12-year olds
— Junior level: > 12 to 19-year olds
For players at the grassroots level, efforts should be focused on engaging more and more youngsters to play the game by providing a fun-filled and safe environment.
On the other hand, junior level players should be assisted with good all-round football training within a structured framework whereby they can take gradual steps towards becoming a professional player.
It is recommended that Small Sided Games (SSG) should be played for players in 6 to 12–year old age group while players who are 12 years and older should play 11 v 11 according to the FIFA rules.
Players within the above age groups can further be identified as Community players and Elite players. It is very important for the coaches to be aware of this and be able to identify the players accordingly, so that the right approach for each group can be adopted.
— Community players: players who just want to have fun, relax and play a game
— Elite players: players who want to use their talent and enthusiasm to become better players through training and coaching
— The detailed NYDP will be attached to the National Curriculum separately. The NYDP will discuss in detail how to train and coach the various age groups, provide medical and physical background information to support basic training and also information and guidance on how to treat these young players mentally. The NYDP, thus, will help to establish a pathway of growth for both Players and Coaches.
However, the NYDP will never be successful if we are not able to back it up with the right infrastructure by realising a National Facility Plan (NFP).
The objective of the NFP will be to develop the support infrastructure for realisation of the NYDP. More specifically, the NFP will aim to achieve the following:
— A National Football Training and Development Center (Elite Center) for all our National Teams plus administration staff
— Regional academies in every State for the age groups 12 -19 years
— Football School Centers in every State for the age groups 6-12 years but also:
— Typical football stadiums for each I-League Club
— Training facilities for all I-League Clubs
— Enough natural grass or artificial pitches for matches and training in every State
— Small sided fields in every part of the city and villages
Last but not the least, AIFF shall create an implementation team responsible for ground-level execution of the NYDP. This team will consist of State Technical Directors, Development Officers and Scouts who will report directly to the Technical Director of the AIFF. It is worth mentioning that apart from the aforementioned professionals, the NYDP will also look to engage many volunteers for the successful execution of these plans.