Bharti Enterprises, with interests in telecom under Airtel, retail, financial services, manufacturing, and agriculture sectors, has signed an agreement with the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the official governing body in India for football, to support the development of India’s Under-16 football team.
This is the first time ever that an Indian youth football team is getting corporate funding support. The agreement to support the Under-16 team is for a period of one year and will help the team prepare for the Asian Football Championship to be held in Uzbekistan in October 2008.
Speaking on the occasion, Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, President, AIFF, said, “The current Under-16 team is a promising lot and has performed exceptionally well at the international level. With the right support and exposure, they can compete at the highest level and make the country proud. We are very happy with the support from Bharti and this will provide a lot of encouragement to the team.”
Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Group CEO, Bharti Enterprises, said, “India’s strength today is its vast pool of youth population. Developing a strong youth programme is one of the top priorities of our partnership with AIFF to create a powerful football culture in India. We hope that this team’s achievements at the international level will be a major catalyst in further promoting football amongst the youth of India.”
The team is currently in West Virginia, USA, where it is playing practice matches and will also travel to Europe in the coming months. It has qualified for the Asian Football Championship by defeating established Asian football giants such as Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. If the team reaches the semi-finals of Asian Football Championship, they will automatically qualify for the Under-17 World Cup 2009.
Bharti already has a MoU with AIFF to build a comprehensive National Football Development Programme (NFDP) and work together for the development of football in India.