Indian Football – AIFF set to introduce multi-continental Champions Cup in August

All India Football Federation (AIFF) has proposed a new invitational multi-continental Champions Cup in the month of August, 2017. The newly introduced competition will comprise four countries competing against each other, starting this year.

The four participants included in the Champions Cup are likely to be from an Asian, African and a North American country in addition to hosts India. With inputs from marketing partner FSDL, the Indian FA has studied the current National Team’s engagement and have formualted a strategic national calendar program. This shall ensure the senior team trains and plays more often through the year, with special attention to increase the number of games on home soil for the Blue Tigers.

Mr. Kushal Das, General Secretary of AIFF expressed his zeal over the newly initiated tournament. Further, he explained the motive of the Champions Cup and its benefits for the national team.

“We (AIFF) are quite excited on the prospect of introducing the new Champions Cup from 2017. AIFF and its partner FSDL have worked together over the last couple of months in studying the past and current year’s National Team engagements and how other countries are performing in Asia.”

”The introduction of the Champions Cup is a result of conscious efforts at our end to ensure the National Team receives enough training camps, international friendlies as well as competitive games. We are in talks with various Football Associations from AFC, CAF and CONCACAF. We envision to consistently climb through the FIFA ranking charts by playing matches against good opponents,” he concluded.

Indian National Team was ranked 132 in the rankings released by FIFA in March and with the recent wins against Cambodia in the international friendly and against Myanmar in AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifier, India is expected to be ranked just outside the top 100 in the rankings to be released in April.

In a Delhi slum, Rohingya team, debates ‘Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi?’

THEY call themselves the Rohingya Shining Stars. On most nights, after they are done with their daily jobs as autorickshaw drivers, construction labourers, software trainees and IT technicians, they gather under a tent in Shaheen Bagh slum in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar for football nights. Long away from home, as the violence that made them flee Myanmar now haunts them here, the refugees debate a matter that unites football fans across the world: who is better, Ronaldo or Messi?

Riyaz, the captain of the Rohingya Shining Stars and one of the 18-member team’s few Ronaldo fans, set up the football club in 2015, along with fellow refugees. “Back home we all used to play football as kids. We were very good at the game but never got the platform to showcase our skills,” says the midfielder, who is doing a computer course and gives free tuitions to children of the Shaheen Bagh Rohingya refugee camp, housing 70-odd families.

The team, which practises with worn-out footballs and in donated boots, on Sundays at Mela Ground in Chittaranjan Park, 8 km away, initially took part in inter-community competitions. Lately, it has been participating in open tournaments, and will be soon playing against corporate teams such as Google and Accenture at an event in Gurgaon.

Sayidul, a defender, is currently jobless, having lost work after the abattoir he worked at in Aligarh shut down after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses in the state. The 22-year-old, who shows a bruise on his scalp from where the Myanmarese security forces hit him, fears having to do manual labour.

“One of the officers hit me with the butt of his gun,” Sayidul says, talking about the raid on his village in Myanmar six years ago. “They are merciless. They don’t spare you, even if you’re a woman. They don’t let you talk. They can beat you up, detain you and even kill you without a reason.”

Following the raid, Sayidul and family left their cattle and farm and joined the tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic group treated as outcasts in their Buddhist-majority home country, to flee to neighbouring countries. Sayidul says he paid a hefty amount to an agent to reach Kolkata via Bangladesh, and later moved to northern India in search of a livelihood.

The tall Mohammed Younis, also a defender, is the oldest player in the squad at 28. His teammates speak very highly of his ‘bullet kicks’ and his muscular physique. Younis says that is not a result of pumping iron at the gym but of eight hours of construction work, six days a week.

“I lift heavy cement slabs on my shoulders every day. When I return home, my body hurts all over. But I really look forward to Sunday when I unwind myself playing football,” says Younis. “I wouldn’t say I am very smart, but when I hit the ground, my mind works really fast.”

Arfat Hussain, the striker, is also a construction labourer, earning Rs 350 for eight hours of work. However, he hasn’t found any work in the past few days, and is worried. “We have to pay bribes to the cops as well. If not, they send us home.”

Eventually, they all hope to return, but not if conditions remain as they do. Riyaz’s eyes get moist each time he talks about Myanmar. His house in Maungdaw area of Rakhine state, one of the worst-affected regions of the country, was burnt down in the most recent spate of violence, in October. Two of his siblings are missing since the incident. “We have no idea what happened to them. They have disappeared,” he says.

Some of Sayidul’s relatives are still back in Myanmar. He fears for their lives and wishes to bring them here, but “can’t afford to pay the agents”.

There is also heightened anxiety among the community after reports that the Indian government may deport them back to Myanmar. There are around 14,000 registered Rohingyas in India.

Says Riyaz, “I would request the Indian government to either jail us for life or round us up and shoot us. If we go back, it’s certain we will be persecuted and killed. There is no future for us and our children in Myanmar. When we first came to India, we realised what love, unity and compassion was. What law and order was. We don’t want to go back to a country where armed forces snatch children being nursed by their mothers and throw them into the fire.”

Amidst the uncertainty, football is the only thing that keeps them going.

Hussain, who has picked up Hindi, tries to describe what they feel about the game. “Football bhi ek nasha hai. Some people are hooked to cigarettes but I’m hooked to this sport. I can’t explain how I feel when I score a goal,” he says.

On Tuesday night, as they gather at his tent, the conversation veers around to major leagues, and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. “We know Riyaz is a Ronaldo fan,” Hussain says with a disapproving smile, his gaze on the TV screen showing a Barcelona replay.

For a while, they can forget home.

FIFA World Cup Director Javier Ceppi believes the tournament will bring ‘Football Revolution’ in the Country

New Delhi: “This is a big opportunity to create a football revolution in India. This, by far, is going to be the best football every Indian is going to witness,” FIFA Under-17 World Cup Director Javier Ceppi said in an interview.

The U-17 World Cup will be hosted by India and will be held across six cities — New Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Margao, Kochi and Navi Mumbai — from October 6 to 28. India got the right to host the prestigious event in December 2013.

“I come from a country (Chile) where football is the number one sport. We have a big responsibility on our shoulders. We want to make football popular in India. This is the first chance for India, so let’s make it count. It is an opportunity for every football fan to come forward and say ‘I am a football fan and I love the beautiful game’, Ceppi said.

Ceppi has also termed the prestigious tournament – FIFA U-17 World Cup – as a ‘football revolution’ in India.

24 teams, including hosts India, will take part in the tournament which will have 52 matches and will be played before an expected global audience of over 200 million in 200 countries.

“Honestly, the interest in football in India is definitely growing. I have seen a huge football following in India. Around 60 to 65 percent of the population in India says they are football fans. I have not only seen their interest in European football or FIFA World Cup, but also in domestic tournaments like Indian Super League and I-League,” the Chilean said.

The tournament director expressed his happiness about the way things were moving ahead in the preparation of the tournament.

“The work is under process. Things are pretty positive. By the time FIFA team will visit (in March), most of the stadiums will be ready. The finishing touches will be pending but I am sure it will be done before time,” Ceppi said.

“The process of installation of bucket seats at Kochi, Kolkata and Guwahati stadiums will be starting soon. Dressing rooms, media centres etc will be ready post March,” a confident Ceppi said.

On promotional front, Ceppi said: “July 7 is the draw ceremony for the tournament. We will get to know which teams are going to which cities. After that the promotional aspect will get more active. We have plans. Our main aim is to spread the word that the tournament is taking place in India.”

Ceppi, however, remained tight lipped on whether Kolkata’s iconic Salt Lake Stadium would host the final.

“The tournament schedule will be announced at the end of March. We will get to know which stadium is hosting how many matches and the final too. We have to wait till then. Not just Kolkata, other cities are also in the fray,” he said.

Ceppi has travelled most part of the country and loved the madness for the ‘beautiful game’.

“I will rate the North East region as number one in terms of football craziness. Goa and Kolkata come later in the list. I have seen Kolkatans, they are mad about football. The rivalry between the two big teams – Mohun Bagan and East Bengal – is amazing,” Ceppi added.

Watching a match during the World Cup, would cost the fans less than Rs 100, the tournament director said.

“We are not seeing tickets as revenue generators. For us, the main aim is to pull as much crowd in the stadium as possible. That is why we have slashed the ticket prices. If you give a ticket a value, it has value and if you give it as free, it doesn’t have value. Of course, there will be categories in ticket prices. We want every Indian to come in the stadium and cheer for their favourite teams,” Ceppi said.

With Diwali slated for October 19 this year, the air quality is a big concern ahead of the quadrennial event, specially in Delhi. Ceppi though rubbished reports that World Cup matches scheduled in the capital would be relocated.

“Delhi will host matches and at any cost. That is for sure. There is no question on Delhi not being a host.”

“We are in touch with central board of pollution control. We will analyse the data. Everybody knows and this is not a discovery that the conditions for 15 to 20 days in Delhi post Diwali is not ideal. But, Delhi is going to host the matches for sure,” he added.

Ceppi also spoke about the ‘Mission 11 Million’, which is to train 11 million children in India in football in the next one year.

“We have introduced a programme – “Mission 11 Million”. How can football progress in India in the next 2 years? This will be the main aim of this programme. Our main target is schools. We want to introduce football at school level with the help of gully football. We have done 24 seminars on this. We will be targeting 12,000 schools in 37 cities across the country,” Ceppi said.

“Academics are important, but sports are equally important. That’s why I said – Football doesn’t need equipments.”

“We are trying to bring the concept of gully football in India – just like gully cricket. You can play in the barren field and streets. You don’t need a 105 by 68 metres professional size ground to play football. I have seen craze and potential among people for this beautiful game,” Ceppi signed off.

FIFA fever heats up, more than 20,000 application for U-17 World Cup volunteering

India, the country known for its obsession with cricket, is also showing a massive interest in football as more than 20,000 people from all over the world—mostly, Indian youngsters—have applied for volunteering in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, which will be held in India this year.

In India, the craze for football isn’t as much as cricket. However, with a great deal of enthusiasm exhibited by the people in India, FIFA was expecting a good number of people to turn out for the registration. To the organiser’s joy, the response was overwhelming. On the very first day,

they received 8,156 applications from about 68 different countries.

In a first, India will be hosting FIFA World Cup and also the first time that they will be playing in the World Cup. According to the data provided by FIFA, a total of 20,200 applications have been received for the volunteer program and from India, the highest number of applications is from New Delhi followed by Mumbai and Kolkata.

In those applicants, 60 per cent belong to age group of 18-22 years and the oldest volunteer is the 71-year-old football enthusiast from Goa. 7 per cent of the applicants are women. FIFA U-17 game will start from October 6 this year, with Kochi being the desired choice for the host city by 7,935 applicants.

The volunteers have applied for responsibilities ranging from Competition management, Marketing operations, Accreditation and IT departments. The volunteering program, which will end its registration in the month of May, will help youngsters in future as they will be rewarded a certificate from FIFA.

“It’s been very encouraging—the response,” Javier Ceppi, Tournament Director, LOC, FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 said. “We have already received more than 20,000 applications and the numbers should only go higher from here on. This talks about the fact that a significant amount of people are well aware that the tournament is happening and they are willing to give their time for free to make the tournament something remarkable.”

ROAD TO FINAL BEGINS: Indian Under-17 to start practice match on Tuesday

The Indian Under-17 World Cup football team will face Portugal’s Vitoria de Setubal side on Tuesday in their first practice match of the exposure trip in Europe.

After taking on Vitoria de Setubal at Troia, the team will cross swords against leading Portuguese club sides Belenenses, Benfica, Estoril and Sporting Club Portugal.

The players left the Indian shores on April 11 and will be in the capital of Porugal – Lisbon till May 15 before proceeding to France to face Paris Saint-Germain’s U-17 Team.

The Luis Norton de Norton’s men are also scheduled to take part in the Lazio Cup and play a series of practice matches in Italy, France and Hungary amongst others.

“I appreciate the efforts of the All India Football Federation in leaving no stone unturned to field the best Indian XI in the World Cup,” de Matos said.

“The efforts are allowing me to see more players and it’s nice to see the Clubs, the League and the AIFF joining hands together for the development of Indian Football,” said the Portuguese.

Practice match schedule in Portugal:

April 18: vs Vitoria de Setubal
April 25: vs Belenenses
April 27: vs Benfica
May 1: vs Estoril
May 5: vs Benfica
May 9: vs Sporting Club Portugal.

OFFICIAL SUPPORTERS CLUB: IndiaSpurs

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India welcomes their first ever Tottenham Hotspur F.C official supporters club, IndiaSpurs is the official Supporters Club of Tottenham Hotspur which aims to promote and develop the burgeoning Spurs fan base in India. The vision of this group is to create a healthy and interactive social platform to engage with fans, nurture young supporters and enhance the good name of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in the nation.

IndiaSpurs was started as a small facebook page, by a few “Die-Hard” Indian Spurs fans who believed in the potential of India as a key fan base for THFC. During their first few months of its launch, IndiaSpurs grew at a tremendous rate gaining 5,000+ likes within the first few weeks!

This amazing response encouraged the team to host match screenings across major cities on a regular basis.  With over 27,000 engaging fans, IndiaSpurs is now one of the most active supporters clubs in the country and aims to claim the #1 spot in the years to come.
India Spurs is currently active in:

  • Ahmedabad
  • Bengaluru
  • Chennai
  • Delhi NCR
  • Goa
  • Hyderabad
  • Kerala
  • Kolkata
  • Mumbai
  • Pune
  • Shillong

    So if you are a Spurs fan and live in any of the above state, then you can join the party with your Spurs family. The contact details are available on the Official site as well as on Facebook.

Career options in Football

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Are you crazy about football? Do you wish you could see your favorite football stars closely? So, stop wishing and start thinking how you can fulfill your wish. If you are clueless regarding how to do so, take a look at the different career options in football. There are more than one option to turn your passion for football into profession. You can choose to become a sports doctor or a sports agent , enter into the broadcasting industry of sports or sports management. You can also think about taking up the career of a PR and marketing professional in sports industry.  So Let’s talk about each of them in details. Take a look at the following.

Becoming a sports agent – this career will turn your dream into reality If you have always dreamt of interacting with footballers, . A sports agent’s responsibility is to offer sound advice to a sportsperson regarding the right choice to make. It could be anything, New offers from different clubs, wages, contract extension etc. You have to make sure that your client gets the right value for the efforts he is putting.  A degree in sports management, an internship program with a reputed sports management agency are good but a good sense of negotiation skills will help you to stand out from the rest. These are the few things you need to get started as a sports agent.

A career in sports medicine – If you are studying medicine and you are a football fan, a career in sports medicine is beyond  perfect for you, isn’t it? As a sports doctor, you will be required to help the players with effective guidelines and healthy tips and tricks to stay fit and fine and deliver optimal performance. You have to make sure the footballers in a good shape and fit. In order to work as a nutritionist or massage therapist, there is no need of extensive education and training. However, specialized training is required if you are interested in a career in orthopedic surgery or rehabilitation therapy.

A career opportunity in sports broadcasting –  A career in sports broadcasting is considered one of the most glamorous career options, as you have the chance to be in the spotlight. If you are sure about your communication skills, a strong personality and possess a strong knowledge of the history of the game, you can make a mark as a football commentator on television or radio. You can also take up the exciting job of a sports anchor.

A profession in sports management – Football teams require efficient sports management professionals to oversee multiple aspects, among which the most important one is financial operations. If you have an academic background in business and management, you can leverage your education and your love for football by shaping a career in sports management.

As a marketing and PR professional – Football teams need skilled marketing and PR professionals to look after several aspects. These professionals help to uphold a team’s image.  They organize various promotional events in collaboration with top advertising houses and corporate sponsors in order to cater to a larger fan base. They are required to work with team owners, football players and coaches.

Each of these career options is exciting and the most competent professionals get the right rewards in the form of hefty compensation packages.