Hero behind the Scene
Twenty-one years ago one man tried to make reforms in the administration of the All India Football Federation by moving to the court, seeking justice and expulsion of the then administrators under the leadership of late Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi by unveiling a financial scam, the administrators were allegedly involved with FIFA grant. He was the late Ranjit Gupta, the former joint-secretary of IFA (Indian Football Association). Gupta, despite having exposed the corruption of the AIFF administration could not succeed finally. Das Munshi-led administration could not be removed. Rather they won the federation election with a nail-biting finish that was held immediately after the controversy.
After 21 years in 2022, another Ranjit whose title is Bajaj has been able to win the first crucial hurdle. His silent effort assisted by a few other well-wishers of Indian football has finally been able to eradicate the incompetent executives in the federation that was been led by Prafulla Patel for more than the last two decades. Ranjit Bajaj who moved to the court for justice against the autocracy of Patel and the executives of his coterie is the silent hero of this transformation through the help of the court.
In its aftermath, in the 85-year history of AIFF, a former Indian international footballer has become the president of the Indian football’s ruling body. In its 85-year history, the federation will see two former Indian international women footballers for the first time in its technical committee.
Ranjit Bajaj, the owner of I-League champion Minerva FC and its football academy, sounded happy with the change- the new team of executives. Talking over the phone from Chandigarh Ranjit commented,
“Yes, I am happy that finally after a span of long 85 years the footballers including the two women footballers have come to administration. They should now be given enough time to make the assessment. You cannot review a book after seeing only its cover. If you ask me what should be expected from them, I have two things to watch. Firstly they set up SOP in administrative activities and the second important thing is the revival of grass route football looking forward to the future of Indian football.”
The 44-year-old club owner explained,
“Presently our football has already more than 700 licensed coaches all over the country. So why should not we use them? Each football playing district should have a licensed coach and the training should start with 6 to 9-year-old boys. These boys should be given quality exposure every year where they can play against better quality players of similar age groups. In this way, their ability can be truly tested and the talented boys will be able to improve their confidence and the belief that they can also perform to the international standard. Otherwise, it will be just impossible to earn a place within the top five in Asian level with the current senior boys despite the fact six to seven footballers in the current senior Indian men’s team have been developed by Minerva FC academy.”
Project World Cup
Ranjit Bajaj’s Minerva FC academy has initiated a project named ‘Project World Cup 2034’. The 6 to 11-year-aged kids have been selected through trials and they are being provided everything including education and exposure also. The academy’s under-12 boys have won an international under-12 championship, Meena Cup in Dubai this year.
Ranjit Bajaj expressed surprise saying,-- Advertisement --
“The Indian Super League (ISL) is nowadays being called India’s best football league. I am surprised how the best league is owned by a private organization?” Secondly, to fulfill the licensing criteria, ISL clubs were also compelled to commit to nurturing the grass route and youth development. My question is in its eight-year journey how many players have been produced by an ISL club? How many Indian footballers who have been nourished by an ISL club since their beginning, have made it into the senior or even junior Indian teams in eight years? If you ask about my contribution so far, I have the statistics that including senior, and junior Indian teams our academy has produced almost 70 footballers who have donned Indian shirts.” But according to Bajaj, crores of money is spent by these ISL clubs on their foreign coaches and foreign players”. “This system should be changed,”
The Process of Reforms will be on
According to Ranjit Bajaj, the process of reforms will still be on. He pointed out,
“More footballers should be allowed to join the federation, and more importantly, they should be given voting rights along with the clubs also. The clubs are the ribs of any country’s football. Still, the clubs have been made outcasts considering the voting rights. The same state associations which had once brought the previous incompetent administrators were instrumental in electing the new team of executives. So, the process of bringing more footballers as well as the clubs in terms of voting rights should be on.”
Commenting on broadcasters and the marketing agent, Bajaj said,
“The federation has to think of alternative financial assistance or they have to revolt as it happened in the kabaddi franchise league that forced the same broadcaster to go on auction. I believe the federation can organize India’s matches (Fifa-friendly and other international tournaments) and try to make money by selling tickets. The value of each match will be more than the value assessed by the ISL broadcaster. Then you have grants from the government and Fifa. So, once the process is started then the I-league which has still been producing footballers of the future cannot be ignored as it is done by the broadcaster and marketing agent.”
Ranjit Bajaj is ready if the present AIFF executives seek advice from him regarding the more reformations that he mentioned.
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