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Arsene Wenger inaugurates first-ever FIFA Talent Academy in India, targets to get India back on map

"Giving every talent in the world a chance is what our programme is about. To identify the talent in India, give good education and good level of competition to make great players. How long it could take, we don't know, but without education we'll remain where we are," Wenger said.

Sumeet Kavthale Written By: Sumeet Kavthale @sumeetkavthale New Delhi Published on: November 22, 2023 16:59 IST
Arsene Wenger at Odisha Football Academy in Bhubaneswar
Image Source : AIFF Arsene Wenger at Odisha Football Academy in Bhubaneswar

FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development Arsene Wenger unveiled the first-ever FIFA Talent Academy in India on Tuesday, November 21. All India Football Federation (AIFF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Odisha to set up an AIFF-FIFA Academy at Odisha Football Academy in Bhubaneshwar.

The legendary football manager is on an India tour and recently attended India's men's team's FIFA World Cup Qualifier game against Qatar at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar on Tuesday. AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey thanked the Government of Odisha and FIFA for setting up an academy to scorch young talent in India.

"I thank the Government of Odisha and FIFA President for his support to Indian Football in every possible way," Kalyan Chaubey said. "The result of that is the presence of the legendary Mr. Arsène Wenger today in India. His guidance, leadership, technical plan and strategy will help India dream. Let’s take a small step and qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup on merit, and soon the senior FIFA World Cup. I have high expectations through the AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy that we will get our best U-17 team in the coming three years."

The former Arsenal manager explained the need for the youth education system and added that the academy will 'help India get back on the map'.

"I'm happy to be in India with my team," Wenger said. "I saw the facilities and the quality of infrastructure is great here in Odisha. We've realised that among 211 countries, most have no real youth education. The best countries have good education system for young children. So, many children don't even get the chance.

"Giving every talent in the world a chance is what our programme is about. To identify the talent in India, give good education and good level of competition to make great players. How long it could take, we don't know, but without education we'll remain where we are. Our target is to get India back on the map. No country has more rights than any other to be on the top. Our huge effort is to educate children to get them as good as they can be. You cannot start to play football at 15, you need to start at five or six."

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