Conversations around developing grassroots football are always fascinating and when you have a diverse set of panelists coming from ISL, I-League, State Association as well as from an International League, the discussion can be extremely thought-provoking.
Nathaniel D’costa, who is a Senior Manager at the Forca Goa Foundation was part of the panel discussing the importance of growing the game at the grassroots level. This chat was organized by 1 Play Sports that prides itself on covering various community-driven sports initiatives across the country.
To start off we had Mr. Shaji Prabhakaran who has written an invaluable book on the foundational level of football, entitled – ‘Back to the Grassroots’. From all his crucial pointers that were discussed in the hour-long chat, what stood out for us the most was the need for different footballing stakeholders to collaborate and pool in resources for the development of the game!
Gary Udhwani, who represents La Liga as the International Business Development, spoke about the value of soccer schools and the opportunities the talented children receive to go to Spain to train – and how these experiences shape up individuals in their career.
Mouriya S from Chennai City FC brought in the Youth perspective, and importantly answered a question around the broadcasting of youth and grassroots level matches; he rightly mentioned that in this day and age, we don’t need an expensive setup for broadcasting local matches. We believe this aspect can be such a motivating factor for young children to get on the pitch as well as their parents to encourage them.
Nathan stressed on the importance of making grassroots football as inclusive as possible and spoke at length about the Foundation’s ‘Girls Score Goals’ campaign – we need to encourage as many girls to play the game and make it an equal playing field. For that to happen, we need to invest in football infrastructure, make the facilities better with changing rooms, washrooms and ensuring security measures are in place as well.
The 1 Play Sports host, Anubhav Jain did a splendid job in getting the panelists to stress the importance of grassroots and as Mr. Shaji mentioned; we are currently at a nascent stage in developing the game in India and various aspects like sports science, analysis, better scouting and coaching have to be looked into if we have to create talent by design and not by chance.