Blinkered vision | sports | Hindustan Times
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Blinkered vision

The Delhi version has a lot of holes in it, reports Arjun Sen.

sports Updated: Aug 09, 2007 04:51 IST
Arjun Sen

The Vision is getting murkier and fast at that too. The Vision India project, a brainchild of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohamed bin Hammam, was started in 2005 with the objective of developing the game in the ‘sleeping giant’, India. Pilot projects began in two places —Delhi and Manipur.

Two years later, and the progress at the two places present a contrasting picture. While development in Manipur is on schedule, the Capital presents a sorry tale. Precious little has been done so far and a ‘clash of egos’ is threatening to crash the entire system.

“We successfully conducted a school league last year, apart from that we also achieved the target of training a batch of coaches in AFC’s C licence programme,” said Shaji Prabhakaran, director Vision India, speaking about the programme in New Delhi. “We also conducted training classes for referees.”

That’s the rosy side. But that’s not all that there’s to it. According to the guidelines set by the AFC, Delhi and Manipur were to conduct a two-division professional local league — an elite league and a city league. Though Manipur, despite a massive disadvantage in the infrastructure available and financial help, has successfully done that, Delhi hasn’t.

“There is no infrastructure to work with,” said Umesh Sood, chairman of Vision Delhi, by way of explanation. “Each and every ground in the city is being renovated for the Commonwealth Games. You tell me how we can conduct a league when there are no grounds?”

That is just half the picture. Sources told HT about a continuous power struggle between the personnel handling the Vision project and the top brass at the Delhi Soccer Association (DSA) who want to wrest control of the project. “The DSA and those handling the Vision project simply aren’t on the same wavelength,” a source said.

“The DSA doesn’t want to be relegated to the background in the scheme of things and keep insisting the project is theirs. This clash has led to a complete standstill in the project’s work. Absolutely no work is being done.”

It is a line of argument Sood simply refused to buy. “Yes, there have been arguments, but nothing major. Anyway, everybody on Vision Delhi’s panel is a member of DSA’s executive committee, if there indeed was a problem, wouldn’t I have been asked to leave,” he reasoned.

“We have no problems with anyone. The DSA is fully committed to the Vision and there is no question of it boycotting or stalling the work,” N.K. Bhatia, DSA secretary said.

As for the professional league, both Bhatia and Sood said it would be ‘up and running’ next month. “Nothing is impossible, we need the full co-operation of DSA and I am sure we’ll be back on track,” Sood said.

Given the way things have progressed, that looks unlikely now.

That’s not where the problems end. HT has also learnt that the AFC mandarins are really miffed with the progress — or the lack of it — at Vision Delhi.

“If nothing concrete happens this year, the AFC might well scrap the Delhi leg of the pilot Vision India project,” a source said.

Brendon Minton, Vision Asia’s Irish director, didn’t go that far during a conversation with HT in Kuala Lumpur but accepted progress has been tardy.

From the look of things, the Delhi-leg of the project does not seem very visionary — excuse the pun — but if things fall in place, who knows it just might be, after all.

In Tamil Nadu and Kerala, India have added two more Vision projects whose module will be developed later this year. Here’s hoping they don’t have starting problems like Delhi.