On November 21, 2023, a significant milestone was achieved in Indian football as the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the Government of Odisha, in collaboration with FIFA, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy. The ceremony, graced by the presence of Mr. Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, marked a crucial step toward nurturing and developing football talent in India.
The Signing Ceremony
- The MoU, symbolizing the commitment of the AIFF and the Government of Odisha to football development, was formally signed in the presence of distinguished dignitaries.
- Mr. Kalyan Chaubey, President of AIFF, and Mr. R Vineel Krishna, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Department of Sports and Youth Services, Government of Odisha, were present at the event.
- Additionally, Mr. Tushar Kanti Behera, the Sports Minister of Odisha, graced the ceremony with his presence.
Selection of Odisha Football Academy as FIFA’s Training Venue
- In May of this year, FIFA Delegates, including Juerg Nepfer, Head of Technical Development Services, Chokey Nima, Regional Technical Consultant for Global Football Development in South Asia, and Ged Roddy, FIFA High-Performance Expert, visited India to establish an academy.
- After considering various options, the Odisha Football Academy, formerly utilized as the training grounds for the under-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup 2022, was ultimately chosen as the venue.
Arsene Wenger’s Vision: Nurturing Talent and Building Successful Careers in Indian Football
- Arsene Wenger expressed that the goal is to recognize talent and, by bringing the best talents together with proper coaching, education, and competitive environments, many can achieve successful careers.
- He also praised the excellent infrastructure and mentioned plans to allocate their own coach and provide assistance, expressing hope for future rewards if the program is executed effectively.
Expressions of Gratitude
- During the ceremony, Mr. Chaubey expressed gratitude towards the Government of Odisha and FIFA for their unwavering support to Indian football.
- He acknowledged the pivotal role played by Mr. Arsene Wenger in the journey of Indian football and emphasized the significance of the AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy in shaping the future of Indian football.
- Mr. Tushar Kanti Behera, the Sports Minister of Odisha stated “The AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy is the first of its kind in India, which is a testament to Odisha’s rapidly-growing standards as a global sports hub.”
Interactive Session with Young Talents
- Following the formalities, Mr. Wenger engaged with aspiring footballers participating in the FIFA Talent Development Scheme.
- He observed their training at the adjacent ground, interacted with coaches, and shared valuable insights to inspire the budding talents.