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Youth development & national team to gain

sports Updated: Aug 14, 2009 00:39 IST
HT Correspondent

Less than one month after All India Football Federation (AIFF) working president Praful Patel announced a Rs 10 crore grant from the Union sports ministry for the 2010 Asian Games, another Rs 25 crore is coming football’s way. This time from its traditional bugbear, cricket.

“I am grateful that my persuasion with the government and the BCCI worked. It augurs well for football. The BCCI was an unlikely source,” Patel told HT on Thursday.

How the cricket board's one-time grant impacts football will be decided by AIFF's executive committee. But Patel said it would be used to give the game a ‘fillip’ with focus on ‘youth development’. Patel also said part of it would help preparations for the Asian Cup finals in January 2011.

To that end Houghton's Goal 2011 is an ambitious step. Under that plan, the national team will be together from June 2010 to the Asian Cup in January 2011.

That’s why India captain Bhaichung Bhutia said the amount is crucial. “It will surely help us in preparing better for the tournament where India have qualified for the first time in over 25 years,” he said.

Terming it a red letter day for football and thanking Patel for it, Subrata Dutta, an AIFF vice-president, said: “The emphasis should be on youth development and coaches' education because that is what takes the sport forward.”

For long, AIFF officials have railed against cricket, accusing it of corroding football's following. Patel ensured that will change from Thursday.