What seems like a cost-cutting measure from the All India Football Federation (AIFF), which ended the last fiscal at least R5 crore in the red, could impact the senior national team.
A week-long pre-season camp to monitor the health of 35 India probables scheduled from Thursday in Bangalore has been deferred and the venue changed as well. It was recommended by the AIFF’s technical director Robert Baan. This will be the first time in almost eight years that the AIFF would organise a camp to only monitor players’ fitness. It is now likely to be held at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala in the middle of July.
From there, the players can report to the preparatory camp in New Delhi for the Nehru Cup, scheduled from August 16-26. “Yes it’s true that holding the pre-season camp just ahead of the Nehru Cup preparations is cost effective and so we decided to postpone the camp,” said Kushal Das, the AIFF general secretary. Das also said the SAI complex in Bangalore would be unavailable for the Olympics.
However, an AIFF official, requesting anonymity given the sensitive nature of the issue, told HT that the camp was deferred because the federation wasn’t keen on spending twice on air travel in two months. Also, hotels would be more expensive in Bangalore than Patiala. It would cost the AIFF approximately R10 lakh to hold the camp in Bangalore.
On the flipside
The flipside is if players are found to have health issues, it would leave the AIFF with little time to identify replacements ahead of the tournament, in which India are defending champions. “That is exactly why we wanted to use the off-season for this health camp,” said the AIFF source.
Das denied that a fund crunch could affect the standard of participating countries in the Nehru Cup being held in the AIFF’s 75th year. “The Nehru Cup is a completely different aspect so funds are not a problem. We will try to bring in some good international teams but the concern is the weather in New Delhi. Nothing is confirmed yet but we are looking to invite five nations and one or two of them could be west Asian teams. That it coincides with Ramzan could make it difficult for them,” he said.