The legendary football manager and FIFA Chief of Global Football Development Arsene Wenger is set to visit India in the second week of October. On August 19, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) confirmed a potential visit from the France coach for the opening of the FIFA-AIFF central academy for U-13 boys and girls to boost the development of Indian football.
Known as one the best football coaches of all time, Wenger joined FIFA as their Chief of Global Football Development in November 2019 and is responsible for the global growth and development of the sport. Football is on the rise in India with both men's and women's national teams enjoying success and receiving recognition in recent years.
AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey and Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran met Wenger in Germany last month and confirmed AIFF's collaboration with FIFA on setting up an academy in India to target talent development programmes. In a video shared by AIFF on Thursday, Wenger said that Indian football needs to create quality education for the youngsters to motivate them to watch football.
"I would say that football is the most popular sport in the world and it looks logical that one of the biggest countries in the world has access to football development," Wenger told AIFF. "I’d say that India is a sporting country, and I’m hopeful that we can bring great joy to children in India and have fun by playing football. I’m confident because I believe that success is linked to education. We want to give the opportunity to educate young people to watch football in India,"
The former Arsenal veteran also asked India's football body to identify the talent and provide a quality educational programme and coaching.
"Overall, it's based on two things. First, it's identifying talent. And then the quality of the educational programme and the coaching is absolutely vital. The AIFF has to take charge of the education with us and we need good cooperation," Wenger added.
Prior to his success with Arsenal in the English Premier League, Wenger coached in Asia with Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight in 1995 and 1996. He gave Japan's example of how they are rising in global football and pointed out their grassroots programs and education for young footballers.
"I arrived in Japan in 1995. They started the professional league in 1993. But they understood very early that you need to create academies and education for young players, and did that programme very well. Look at them now, the boys as well as the girls. Japan are among the top of the world rankings. They are a good example to follow. They understood very quickly that education was the key," Wenger added.