The AIFF welcomed FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, Arsene Wenger at the Football House on November 20, 2023. The former Arsenal manager personally visited the country to set plans for the development of football at the grassroot level in motion.
As per the official press release from AIFF, he had a long discussion with president Kalyan Chaubey about the development of football. There are plans to start several academies across the country to further the development of the sport over the coming years. These are in conjunction with Bayern Munich legend Oliver Kahn’s recent plans for a goalkeeping academy in the country.
Arsene Wenger visits India to set development plans into motion
“I would say I was always fascinated by India. My target is to improve football in the world. And it is impossible that a country like India, 1.4 billion, is not on the football world map.”
“I believe you have huge assets, fantastic qualities that make me very optimistic about what you can do here. It is absolutely fantastic to have that opportunity. And with my team, we are really highly motivated to help this country develop in the game. I’m convinced that it’s possible in the very short term,” Wenger said.
“I was in Japan at the start of their football in 1995. In 1998, they were at the World Cup. So that means it is possible. You have to start early.
“What will football be like in 2030? How can we imagine what our needed quality is in 2030? But what is for sure, is where we start with technique. Football is a technical sport. We have to equip the players from five to 15 with the best possible capacity to be technically at the top. That means, basically, to make it simple, is to make the ball his friend. The rest can be developed later. And this is absolutely vital.”
“So, this is where we have to start and that’s where we want to help people to make young players technically perfect. The start of our programme is to identify the talent and then put the best talents together,” he said.
Speaking on India’s potential aspirations and goals, Wenger added: “So imagine the potential that is here if we work well. And my main target here is to convince people that there is a gold mine here but at the moment it is not completely explored, exploited and encouraged.”
There are plans for the football system to be completely overhauled by 2047 in partnership with FIFA. The president of the global body, Gianni Infantino, is also set to visit the country later on and attend the finals of the Santosh Trophy.
With Arsene Wenger’s personal involvement, there is a lot of optimism surrounding the future of the sport in the country. The development of football at the youth level is the first step, with VAR set to be introduced in the ISL and I-League from 2025-26, as well as the crystallisation of the tier-based league system.