bhutia: Bhutia’s priority is to help states financially, revive grassroots tournaments

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Indian football legend Bhaichung Bhutia on Tuesday said if he wins the AIFF president’s election on September 2 his priority would be to make the state associations improve financially so that top players and coaches can be produced. Bhutia is in a two-way fight with former goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey for the All India Football Federation’s top post.

“Every state association including Bengal needs financial support to hold their leagues at various levels,” the 45-year-old former India captain said during a visit to East Bengal here.

Bhutia said he already had his budget ready.

“At present, the AIFF gets Rs 50 crore from FSDL. Rs 30-40 crore from the Centre. We have to give the state associations chunks of budgets to do grassroots football tournaments and the leagues,” he said.

“At present, half of the state associations don’t have their leagues, forget about grassroots tournaments, so how would they produce players? If you don’t produce quality players, how would you dream of playing in the World Cup? The main priority is to help all states financially.

“A lot of state associations are in trouble. You can’t just dictate orders, you need to help them also. Through this fund, it’s important that you create coaches.”

System to revive Kolkata’s Big Three

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Bhutia said he wants to bring in a “system” to revive the Big Three — Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting — who are now heavily reliant on investors to meet their professional requirements..

“Financially and technically too I would like to help Bengal. I want to bring back the glory days of Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting.

“There are ways to do it. Sponsors and corporate houses are needed. I want to bring a system in place through which they can stand on their own feet and bring back their glory days.”

Bhutia further spoke about having coaching courses in regional languages.

“Now it’s mostly in English, but there are many coaches who can’t sit for theory exams because of the language factor. So you have to make it simple for them. If we produce more coaches, more players will come.”

‘Would love to work with Kalyan in different role’

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The ‘Sikkimese Sniper’, who did not get a support from his home state as his nomination was proposed and seconded by Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, is up against front-runner Chaubey, a BJP leader from West Bengal.

“Kalyan is a very good human being and played here in Kolkata. But I request everyone not to make this AIFF election a political affair, because a lot of sports federations including AIFF has suffered because of political interference. Indian football has suffered a lot in these 75 years.

“After the FIFA ban is revoked, it’s a great opportunity to revive Indian football. It is unfortunate that it’s politically tagged. If it becomes a political affair then whoever comes to power, it becomes very difficult to work with the state government if it’s from the rival party, it hampers a lot.

“This election should be for football and for the love for the sport. Kalyan is welcome to the football administration, if things work out, I would love to take him along and work together,” the 45-year-old said.

Talking abut his past experience as player and administrator, Bhutia said, “I’ve already worked with AIFF as a technical committee chairman, I also run my club and even played in Kolkata in my 20 years of playing career.

“Experience wise, credibility wise I think I will be able to deliver this role. Without experience, one-two states can misguide Kalyan that is very, very dangerous,” Bhutia concluded.

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