NEW DELHI: All India Football Federation is currently in talks with different state governments over the possibility of hosting national team camps across various age-groups, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das stated to AIFF TV in a candid chat.
“The first important camp is for U-16 boys who are around three months away from the AFC U-16 Championship,” said Das. “We are also conscious of the fact that the U-17 girls also need to start the camp as soon as possible,” he maintained. The entire chat will be available on the Indian Football’s official social media handles on Friday (July 17, 2020).
“We have been in talks with various state governments as well as SAI (Sports Authority of India. Each state government has its own set of protocols to follow in terms of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic situation. Hopefully, we start both camps very soon. That’s our endeavour,” said Das.
“Some states are following a very rigid protocol so we might need to shift to a different state in that case. We are in the process of doing that. Abhishek (Yadav) and myself have been working constantly on this.”
“With regards to the senior men’s team, our plan is to start the camp sometimes in early September. We want the camp in Bhubaneswar as the match against Qatar was scheduled there. We’re in touch with the state government of Odisha as well as SAI. We are expecting to get a response from them. It’s a very tricky situation but we need to come up with the best possible solution given the circumstances,” he added.
Under a normal situation, the junior teams would have been sent on a number of exposure tours to get them battle-ready for major tournaments like the AFC U-16 Championship or the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. While efforts still continue, exposure tours may not be a feasible solution keeping the safety of the players and the staff in mind.
“Yes it is a cause to worry. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, we had planned a lot of exposure trips which unfortunately are shelved now. I’m hoping that we can arrange some tours, especially for the U-16 team, at least one tour before going to Bahrain,” Das maintained.
“But, at this point of time, it’s very difficult to predict. It’s definitely something to worry about. Even the other teams are also on the same boat. I guess it’s the same situation for them. But I believe Uzbekistan, Australia and Korea Republic have already resumed training, so we also need to do that.”
Incidentally, India U-16 have been clubbed in the same group with Korea Republic, Australia and Uzbekistan in the U-16 AFC Finals.
‘PREPARATION FOR U-17 WWC WAS GOING VERY WELL’
Das informed that India U-17 Women’s World Cup coach Thomas Dennerby was very satisfied with what was planned in the build-up to the preparation for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
“The preparation for the U17 WWC was going very well. Our coach Thomas Dennerby was quite satisfied. He felt that going for the exposure trips would certainly add more experience to the team. Unfortunately, we have to live with the circumstances. We’ll see what we can do. There’s no doubt that if we could have managed some exposure tours, it would have definitely helped,” he quipped.
“For the U17 girls’ team, we probably think that maybe by November-- December things will get better. We can manage a few tours. We just hope for that,” he mentioned.
A number of leagues have already resumed in Europe, where the COVID-19 situation has improved over the past few weeks. West Indies’ tour of England is currently going on in the UK, while the Formula One season has seen a delayed start in recent times.
Das believes that such changes would last for around a year, but the proceedings should get back to normal once everything settles down.
“For another year or maybe half-a-year, there will be limitations on the spectators inside the stadias. There will be changes but hopefully, in next two to three years, things will settle down and we’ll be back to some sort of normalcy,” he continued.
“I think there would be changes-- like putting saliva on cricket balls wouldn’t probably be allowed for quite some time which actually will impact the sport. There’ll also be restrictions on the way people celebrate either a goal or a wicket or a victory. Earlier people used to share water bottles but that’s not the case anymore. They have to drink water from their own bottles,” Das concluded.