O'Donell calls for more youth tourneys

A few months after FIFA officials David Borja (Developement and Programmes Officer, Asia) and Jurg Nepter (Head of Education and Technical Development) felt that India needed more competitions at the youth level to field a competitive side for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, Scott O’Donell, an All India Football Federation (AIFF) Academy Instructor, echoed the same sentiments.

Overseeing the India U-22 camp which started in the city on Monday, the Australian, who was earlier the coach of the Cambodian national team, felt that it was the responsibility of the State Associations to conduct tournaments in the various age-groups.

“Some of the states like Goa are running them but it goes on for not more than two months maximum. We need them to be playing for eight or nine months. But credit to Goa for at least running them,” he said.

O’Donell said that after the AIFF identifies and trains the best players in the country, to ensure that they develop at a quicker pace, they need to play competitive games as much as possible. “But that is difficult here (India) because there aren’t many youth competitions. Or very few states run competitions.”

He also opined that the I-League clubs should play a greater role in harnessing talent through their own academies. “What would be great is if the top-tier clubs have their own academies, so we just focus on the junior teams. But that is not the case now.”
But O’Donell did point out that the World Cup in itself should serve as a great boost. “It (2017 WC) has provided a boost and all boys who were born in 2000 will be doing their best to play for India in that tournament.”

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