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Project 2011: AIFF gets down to work

sports Updated: Mar 13, 2009 00:00 IST
Abhishek Hore
Abhishek Hore
Hindustan Times
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Project 2011 is its catchphrase now and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is keen on ensuring the national team competes on an even keel with the continent's best in the 2011 Asia Cup in Doha.

Keeping the tournament in mind, some AIFF executive committee members met here on Thursday to discuss the merits and possible hurdles it might face if the proposed project is approved.

If the project gets the go-ahead, it will see India's top 25 players staying together — training and playing for the national team only - for the next one-and-a-half years.

"It was an informal gathering where the members gave their opinions on the project," said a top AIFF official.

"The team might benefit from the project but it would not be so easy to implement it," he said.

The matter will now be discussed with working president Praful Patel.

"The president will take the final call on whether to go ahead with the project or not," the official said.

National coach Bob Houghton has already finalised a list of 25 players that include big names like Bhaichung Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri, Steven Dias, N. P. Pradeep and Climax Lawrence to name a few.

The ambitious project will cost around Rs 15-20 crores per annum and if approved, the AIFF would have to bank on sponsors.

"Mainly, the aim is to develop the national team and help the players prepare for the 2011 Asian Cup," said another AIFF official.

Asked if the players would be stopped from signing contracts with clubs or honour existing contracts, the official said: "I am not sure if that would happen; they (players) might be allowed to play in some matches."

"But the national team will play a lot of international matches and the there would be foreign trips for players on a more regular basis," he added.

Houghton, who has always emphasised the need for players to train together and play as many international matches as possible, was also present in the meeting.