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Govt officials go conventional to improve football

sports Updated: Mar 30, 2012 02:34 IST
Navneet Singh

Even die-hard football fans wouldn't risk their money and board a flight to Manchester for the Soccerex Global Convention to discuss the nitty-gritties of Indian football which hasn't been able to improve its global standing in the last decade.

Hence, that there are two government officials, one each from the Sports Ministry and the Sports Authority of India (SAI), who attended the Manchester convention's last two days (March 28-29), is baffling at the moment.

A marriage between business and football, the convention had aimed to discus, among other things, the potential for emerging markets across the globe. India, being one such market that is bidding to host the 2017 U-17 World Cup, made a presentation on Thursday.

SAI was represented by Uma Dutta, administrator of the National Stadium. The Sports ministry has gone a step further and sent Omkar Kedia, a joint-secretary level official, who is on deputation with the ministry.

Scope for improvement
SAI director-general Desh Deepak Verma felt the tour would serve the purpose of generating funds for SAI as events like these would help the officials present to network with those in the field and help bring around events to India.

"Our officials would interact with other officials and try to bring in more international tournaments. The event would be held at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium and will generate funds for SAI.

It will also act as soccer feast to the Indian fans, and improve the game in the country." However, no top European club team is expected to come without a high visiting fee. And accommodating India in their busy calendar will hardly benefit the hosts in establishing a sustainable program to improve qualitatively.

Furthermore, government-funded trips abroad in the past to acquire relevant onus have yielded questionable results.

Like a Delhi-based football expert said: "A 90-minute show can't change the fate of soccer in the country. More focus should be on home-bred players and proper structuring of the professional league to develop game in the country."