Arsene Wenger, the Professor, to help groom football talents in India
FIFA and All India Football Federation join hands to set up a central academy under the legendary former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's stewardship
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) staged a casting coup of sorts when they roped in Arsene Wenger, aka The Professor, to jointly set up a central academy in India. He is expected to make an official announcement via a virtual press conference in September, and scheduled to visit India in the second week of October to work out the details of the proposed academy.
“I am glad to say that we are on the verge of setting up a state-of-the-art centralised academy in India, along with FIFA, with Mr Arsène Wenger playing a key role in the whole set-up. I am sure that with his experience and our industriousness, we can set the ball rolling for India to produce future stars,” said Kalyan Chaubey, the AIFF president.
Chaubey and AIFF secretary general Dr Shaji Prabhakaran, who are in Australia, had a meeting on Saturday, with Wenger, now FIFA chief of global football development; Steven Martens, technical director; and Ulf Schott, head of high-performance programmes at FIFA in Sydney to finalise the collaboration. The academy will train under-13 (U-13) boys and girls.
The proposed academy, deemed to be a part of AIFF’s Vision 2047, will not function in a standalone manner—rather, it will be supported by around four or five other feeder academies, thus making it a network. The name of the academy will be finalised later.
One of the most influential figures in modern football and certainly in Arsenal’s history, the Frenchman served Arsenal for a whopping 22 years (1996–2018), developed many superstar players and won 17 trophies, including The Invincible season in 2004 (49 games unbeaten), yet to be achieved by any other club. It is widely believed that Wenger had earned the nickname ‘Professor’ for his ability to speak six languages.
Speaking in a statement, the AIFF supremo also said: “The U-13 Youth League and Sub-Junior National Championships will play an important role in spotting talents and setting up the academies. We want to provide more opportunities to our member associations and youngsters as well to organise themselves for the state-level trials so that each state association can field their best possible team for the U-13 Youth League.”