International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) Chief of Global Football Development Mr. Arséne Wenger remarked that timely identification of talents and providing them profound coaching at a young age is essential to grow Indian football.

Speaking at a press conference with All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Mr. Kalyan Chaubey in Mumbai, Mr. Wenger said that developing the sport in India is an exciting and interesting endeavour for the global governing body as he insisted upon finding efficient solutions in consultation with all stakeholders of the game in the nation.

Mr. Wenger signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on behalf of FIFA with AIFF to set up the inaugural FIFA-AIFF Talent Academy at the Odisha Football Academy in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.

“We are convinced that you have to put the best talents against each other together. Football is learnt with the difficulties you experience by playing against good players. We want to identify good talents, give them the best coaching, quality competitions, and after that, the final step is to integrate them within the first team,” Mr. Wenger said.

Mr. Kalyan Chaubey, President, AIFF, touched upon the driving force that the Indian Super League (ISL) and other stakeholders have been towards taking Indian football forward. He opined that the synergy between the AIFF and the ISL has been paramount for the development of the sport and he motivated all authorities to work in cooperation and ensure that Indian football reaches heights so that years later they can be proud of the day this initiative with FIFA was kicked off.

“The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is having a good synergy with the Indian Super League (ISL), the club owners, and all stakeholders of Indian football. We all have been working for the development of football. The AIFF is asking everyone to push together for progress in the same direction. We can take the support of all stakeholders, so that we can feel proud of this day in the future,” Mr. Chaubey remarked.

Mr. Wenger agreed on the need to work collaboratively, adding, “This is something that we need to do together. We are here to help. We do not want anything. We just want to give from everything that we have learnt from all the countries in the world. The top one percent footballing countries in the world are the ones with better systems of education. There is a huge correlation between the quality of education and the results of the first-team.”

Mr. Wenger quipped that there is a need of having 40 such development academies to fulfil the needs of a country the size of India. However, he was convinced that proper solutions could be met with the help of all concerned stakeholders.

“In the last three days, we spoke a lot about the promise from both sides. I feel that we have cooperation here. Ideally, we want 40 academies so that nobody misses to detect talent in this country. Of course, we have to find the most efficient solution and hence we need the cooperation of everybody who has potential here, right from the states, the AIFF, from sponsors who want to develop football, that’s why it’s difficult, but at the same time it is very exciting and interesting for us,” Mr. Wenger explained.