Bharti Enterprises has signed a MoU with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to create a comprehensive programme, National Football Development Programme (NFDP), for the development and globalisation of Indian football. AIFF is the official governing body in India for football, and Bharti would make substantial investments in the programme, which would be upwards of Rs 100 crore.
NFDP is aimed at delivering the vision of taking India to the FIFA World Cup while building a powerful sporting and football culture in India. AIFF, in partnership with Bharti, will also design and build a world-class talent development programme.
Commenting on the association, Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, Union Minister of I&B and Parliamentary Affairs, and President, AIFF, said, “In India, football has had a rich history. The football academy will build young talent providing them with the best the world has to offer. We are pleased that a company like Bharti has stepped forward to partner India in the development of football. AIFF remains committed to partner Bharti and make India a football superpower.”
Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Group CEO, Bharti Enterprises, added, “We have plans to invest a few Rs 100 crore in the programme. We would go for the right branding as well as the right involvement of national and international stars. We would do all that needs to make the programme successful and take India in the world map of football.”
Mittal however did not provide specific investment details, but said that the investments are for the next 10 years, by when he would expect India to rank among the top football nations, from the present 145th.
The investment would be to support the development of the India Under-16 football team in its endeavour to qualify for the Under-17 football World Cup finals. The team has reached the final qualifying round from Asia and will receive the best coaching and support.
“Our vision is to develop a rich football and sporting culture in India. We are delighted to partner AIFF towards taking Indian football to international standards. We believe that the initiatives by Bharti and AIFF will make the Indian football team the pride of Asia and the world. To achieve this vision, we will also look at partnering leading international football institutions like Manchester United and IMG,” Mittal elaborated.
Both Dasmunshi and Mittal are hopeful that more corporates would come forward to support football to bring India in the world map.
Bharti will establish and govern a world-class football academy, which will be called the ‘Bharti-AIFF Academy’. The Academy, which will be built on the lines of Club Academies in Western Europe, will be a residential and educational academy. It will select and nurture talent in different age groups with the help of experts from around the world, and will provide the talent with exposure to global best practices and training techniques. Bharti plans to create a partner ecosystem, which will include significant international sporting leaders, towards achieving these objectives.