Following the trial of 40 U-22 players that were selected through the AIFF Scouting Network and are currently undergoing trials under the watchful eyes of Stephen Constantine, Head Coach of Indian National Team at the Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai; www.the-aiff.com caught up with AIFF’s Director of Scouting and former India international Abhishek Yadav and talked at length about the developing scouting pipeline in the nation.
What is the aim of developing a Scouting Network?
The aim is to ensure that every single Indian with footballing talent gets spotted and recorded by the AIFF, irrespective of whether the player lives in a remote village in India or outside India.
How did you zero down on the 40 selected players?
The appointed scouts travelled to numerous states and watched football matched ranging from Inter-University tournaments to Inter-College matches (RFYS) and Santosh Trophy matches. The technical team watched the Second Division League games while the Overseas Scouting Project team perused profiles of Indian players living overseas. The invited players are those that have certain qualities that Head Coach Stephen Constantine wants for his team.
How will the trials benefit?
The trials are for the potential benefit of the India U-23 team. However being part of a camp being conducted by the Indian National Team’s Head Coach Stephen Constantine further boosts the quality of the players and they leave knowing what the Head Coach wants, so that they may continue to work hard knowing the specifications for making it to the National Team.
What are your future plans for scouting in India?
The plan is to propagate scouting as deep and as wide as possible in India and overseas. To make it easy for talented players to access the AIFF and vice-versa. To keep this process consistent across all age-groups, throughout all competitions, whilst covering Women’s football too. The support by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) DG Mr. Injeti Srinivas, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Mr. Vijay Goel, AIFF President Mr. Praful Patel and AIFF General Secretary Mr. Kushal Das has been tremendous and has helped us in this quest.
How important is scouting when developing football in the nation?
Scouting will motivate more and more players to take up football and stick to it because we are showing a pathway to progress. The number of active players will increase also because we are casting a net wider and wider. The more the numbers of players are covered, the more will be the number of high quality players produced. Quantity will bring quality in a higher quantity and the momentum of Indian football’s progress will pick up.