Last month, Indian Head Coach Igor Stimac set a new record handing as many as 10 players their senior international debuts in a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Oman. As many as five of these players worked their way into the national team through the age-group levels and while we all celebrated the influx of exciting young talent, the AIFF Scouting network have only continued to plough forward to ensure the next crop of talent remains just around the corner for India.
Working closely with State Associations, the AIFF have resumed trials and scouting after the lockdown. Trials have been successfully conducted for girls born in 2005/06/07, and scouting for Senior women and U-20 women’s teams has resumed. Fresh round of trials for boys born in 2005 and 2006 is also set to kick off.
With an eye on the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup which will be hosted in India, over 300 girls (born in 2005-07) were invited for trials conducted across seven states, viz. Haryana, Manipur, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu as well as Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. The trials yielded a crop of 23 girls who may be shortlisted for the first camp to join up with players from their age-group who have previously represented India. AIFF also collaborated with coaches of Sports Authority of India (SAI) who have recommended players as per the requirements of the national team coaches.
The process will continue keeping in mind the health and safety parameters, and the list will only get stronger. The sub-junior national football championship (NFC) will provide players the next opportunity to present their talent and scouts will get the opportunity to watch players from across the country.
AIFF General Secretary Mr. Kushal Das lauded the State Associations for their cooperation in this constant endeavour to unearth young talent. “I need to put on record and congratulate the several State Associations for their tremendous work to enhance the pipeline for the senior teams. The State Associations involved in the scouting process have been extremely proactive and cooperative. The All India Football Federation has always stressed on catching ‘em young and the procedure will continue.” Mr. Das averred.
The AIFF have also observed players for the women’s senior team and U-20 squad in numerous states where State Women’s Leagues have been organised. Further scouting for players is set to continue once the Hero Indian Women’s League (IWL) final round gets underway.
Meanwhile, the camp for boys born in 2005 has kicked-off at the Kalinga Stadium, Odisha thanks to the fact that scouting for that age-group was started in the pre-lockdown season. Nevertheless, fresh trials for 2005 and the new 2006 camp will be conducted in the coming months.
Trials have been conducted in Chhattisgarh, notably including a special area scouting project organised at Narayanpur for boys from the tribal community of that region. More than a dozen states have confirmed their interest to organise the trials. However, the dates for the same are yet to be finalised owing to the ongoing rise in COVID-19 cases.