AIFF signs MoU with Odisha govt on FIFA-AIFF Academy in presence of Arsene Wenger
The AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of Indian football, with its focus on early education, global standards, and fostering a new generation of skilled players.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the Government of Odisha formalised a strategic partnership today, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy at the Odisha Football Academy in Bhubaneswar. The ceremony witnessed the distinguished presence of former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development.
The MoU, inked by AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey and R Vineel Krishna, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Department of Sports and Youth Services, Government of Odisha, marks a significant step towards fostering football talent in India. Sports Minister of Odisha, Tushar Kanti Behera, graced the occasion, emphasising the monumental nature of the AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy as the first of its kind in India.
Addressing the gathering, Chaubey expressed gratitude to the Odisha Government and FIFA president Gianni Infantino for their unwavering support towards Indian football. He highlighted the presence of Wenger as a testament to this support and outlined ambitious goals for Indian football through the AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy.
"I have high expectations through the AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy that we will get our best U-17 team in the coming three years," Chaubey stated.
Wenger, in his remarks, conveyed happiness about being in India and commended the quality of infrastructure in Odisha. He underscored the global need for youth education in football and outlined the programme's objective to identify and nurture talent in India.
"To identify the talent in India, give good education and a good level of competition to make great players," Wenger emphasised. He stressed the importance of early education in football, stating, "You cannot start to play football at 15, you need to start at five or six."
Government representative Krishna expressed great honour at Wenger's presence in Odisha, stating, "You've been an inspiration to football lovers across the globe." Behera echoed these sentiments, highlighting the academy's uniqueness as a testament to Odisha's emergence as a global sports hub.
Following the signing, Wenger observed budding footballers training under the FIFA Talent Development Scheme at the adjacent ground. The legendary football figure also engaged with coaches involved in the training, emphasising the academy's commitment to holistic talent development.