A few hours ago, the story of Aizawl FCs Under 15 players sleeping on the floor near the toilets in trains surfaced. They were travelling back after losing the semifinals of the Nike Premier Cup for Under 15 players. The conditions shown in the images are a little disturbing and demotivating to young footballers across the globe. But like every story, even this one has another side to it.
The young children were, agreeably, not captured in the best of their moments, but the traction that this story has gained with all the AIFF shaming is baffling. The All India Football Federation has set up a brilliant system for young footballers to come through and get the exposure and responsibility of playing for your region as well as your country. Let us first take a look at the issue which has surfaced online:
The above pictures show the Under 15 players of Aizawl FC sleeping on the floor of a train as they travel from Howrah Junction to Guwahati. The group of 18 people had just 2 confirmed seats, with the rest in Waiting List. But instead of taking an alternate train, the kids decided to travel anyways. Thus, they had to face such derogatory conditions during their travels.
Who’s fault is this?
There is no simple answer to this question. The team management knew beforehand that they did not have reserved seats, yet they decided to travel anyways, while the Indian Football Federation (AIFF) could have done a little more for their young talents. Either way, pointing fingers will not solve a problem, which has hurt the image of Indian Football in the eyes of its youngsters as well as the World.
What can be a possible solution be?
The Nike Premier Cup, a revolutionary competition in its third term this year, has become a huge stepping stone for young players from across the country to showcase their talent and compete with the best in their age group. It has successfully crossed the barrier of I-League vs ISL, organising a competition with the academies of both the tournaments participating in it.
Looking at senior level tournaments for football as well as other sports in the country, like the Indian Premier League and Premier Badminton League, a solution pops out. One of the biggest reason for the influx of huge amounts of money into these tournaments is sponsorship deals. Brands like Oppo and Vivo are investing big bucks to capture the medium range mobile phone market and visibility is the one thing which will help them gain the trust of Indians.
The same can be done for the grass-roots Indian football circuits. Indian brands like MakeMyTrip, Yatra.com and Goibibo have embarked on a battle to capture the Indian audience. They are offering huge deals and discounts to increase their customer base. A tie-up with such an Indian travel company can help plan out the travel details of these young children who are traveling long distances away from their family. A comfortable travel arrangement will help these young guns stay sharp and give their best in every match and tournament they play in.
The stay can also be taken care of by coming into a mutual agreement with young as well as established companies like OYO rooms, Trivago and Treebo Hotels are battling with Airbnb, an American company to capture the Indian audience. These hotel solutions companies can plan out the stay details and take care of the comfort of the players, again helping them function at their best in the tournaments.
With an eye on expansion and becoming the number one choice of Indians, these companies look like someone who would be willing to invest in Indian football, which is gaining popularity and increasing its standards every year. The above companies have also heavily invested in College fests and other youth events to capture their attention. Thus, we urge these companies to come up with ideas that can help the countries best and brightest prospects excel.
We all agree that what happened with the Under 15 players of Aizawl FC should never have happened and will not be tolerated by both the AIFF and the Indian football lovers. Thus, every step which can help the Youth setup and help the players develop into World Class players of the future must be taken if we are to live our dream of competing in the Football World Cup one day.
What are we doing?
Every Indian who came across this issue was visibly outraged with it. The anger is justified, but it is not productive. We at indifoot are developing a community of hard-core football lovers and enthusiast, who want to make their voice heard by writing articles, connect with fellow enthusiasts and have a constructive dialog. We would also like to tell you about an initiative which is really close to our hearts.
Indifoot is in the process of organizing a footballtournament, bringing in young and enthusiastic kids from the tribalareasof Jhabua in MadhyaPradesh and Banswara in Rajasthan to Baroda in collaboration with Anuj Chemicals Industries Football Club(ACIFC). This tournament is a crucial spectacle for us, one which will help these kids forget their hardships and revel in the spirit of football, because, at the end of the day, that's what football does to you.