Efforts must be to send the message globally that Indian football is changing: Shaji Prabhakaran

By Jagannath Chatterjee

New Delhi, August 30 (IANS): Veteran sports administrator and current president of Football Delhi (FD), Shaji Prabhakaran, is absolutely confident that the new dispensation to take over the affairs of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) after the general body elections will bring the ” desired changes” and will help. the game grows in the country.

Prabhakaran is happy that the two candidates in the running for the AIFF president’s post, former footballers Kalyan Chaubey and Bhaichung Bhutia, have been renowned players and have the welfare of the football community in mind.

He wants the new setup to focus its energies on grassroots football and restructure the competitive setup of the game in the country, so that not only the country but the global community recognizes that “India is changing”.


Q: After more than a decade, a new team will take over AIFF, how do you see it? Will it bring the desired changes?

A: Yes, absolutely. No doubt. The new team that will come will be like-minded and I am sure there will be many changes. Fans and stakeholders have been waiting for this change and it’s a big one. Expectations will be high and I’m sure the new team will be able to deliver.

Q: Whoever is president will be a former footballer. Is it good for sport?

A: You see, the good thing is that the two contenders are former footballers, and thus there will be a good change in terms of leadership. But, at the end of the day, it will depend on the whole team. I’m sure Kalyan (Chaubey) is the favourite. There is no doubt about it. I am sure that he is working to build a team so that the change that everyone hopes for can take place.

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With both of them (Kalyan and Bhaichung) being footballers, their commitment, their understanding of the game will be there, which will bring a sea change in terms of what we haven’t seen in the last few decades. Overall, it’s a great situation for Indian football.

Q: What should be the priorities of the newly elected committee?

A: The priorities in football at the moment have to be to develop the game and bring all the stakeholders together and bring about the necessary changes, that are required, and take the right steps in consultation with the stakeholders. In other words, the priorities should be developing football, women’s football, grassroots football and structuring the whole competitive structure and giving that kind of message not only to fans in India but globally that India is changing for better.

The new committee must ensure that the U-17 Women’s World Cup, which will take place in October 2022, is a success and leaves a strong legacy. Of course, there is little time and the team has to get into action quickly. There should be more action and less talk, that’s what I think.

Q: Bhaichung Bhutia says that Kalyan Chaubey is being misled. What do you feel?

A: I don’t know. On what basis did Bhaichung make that statement? What I do know is that Kalyan is a heavy favorite for the post of president.

Q: Although you are not competing but being the face of change, what will be your role?

A: Look, my only interest is to see changes and support the growth and development of Indian football, that role I will continue to play… as much as I can to improve Indian football. My expectation is that as a new team you should get the best possible guidance and support from whoever you can. I will always be there for any kind of support or role. In that way we can move forward and create a very positive and warm environment where Indian football gets the right headlines in terms of moving forward.

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