Need academies in India: Bhutia

Kids mobbed the Indian star, asking him for autographs and hoping to get a photograph with him. “It’s always nice to watch school football. I think these tournaments play a very important role in developing young talent across the country,” Bhutia, who was the chief guest for the final day of the Parikrma Champions League inter-school tournament, said.
“The aspect that needs to improve in such tournaments, however, is the visibility. Scouts need to come and watch these kids, only then can the talented ones be spotted and put into academies. The structure that Indian football so desperately needs, unfortunately, is missing.

Praising the artificial turf at the Bangalore Football stadium, Bhutia said in India, these pitches are the way forward. “Natural grass is definitely the better option, otherwise big clubs in the world would also be playing on these artificial turfs. But in India, definitely, artificial turf is the way to go. Because it is so difficult to grow natural grass and maintain it properly here, we need to look at this alternative.”

Talking about his favourite subject, his club Sikkim United, Bhutia said their first priority would be to qualify for the I-League next season. “That is our plan. Qualify first and then take it from there and see how well we progress.

“We were disappointed not to make it this year. In fact, I was sure that we would make it, but some circumstances worked against us.

“For instance the turf at Shillong Lajong was so bad, it was one of the major causes for our failure to progress. We just couldn’t play there. Our side is based on playing good football, but when you come across such pitches, it negates everything you have. So we need to find better grounds to play on, even in the second division.

Bhutia also stressed the need for clubs to form their own academies to produce players. “We need academies all across India. You look at Barcelona, almost all the players in the starting eleven are from their academy. But that cannot be said of any club in India. None of their players are homegrown. It is absolutely necessary for us, as a counry, to establish more academies so that we can produce more and more young talented players.

Bhutia, who is the president of the Football Players Association of India, said that the FPAI is doing everything to establish a universal contract system within the I-League. “The contracts that are offered in India are one-sided ones. There is no protection for the players. With these FIFA approved universal contracts, which are applied everywhere else in the world, we can protect the players and their futures, which is very essential.”
“We are talking with all the clubs, and progress is being made. I’m confident that soon we will have the contract system in place all across India.” 

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