The All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) commitment to promote football across all categories as per the new redefined AFC Grassroots Philosophy saw a record participation amongst the state associations across the entire country and participants of all ages and abilities commemorated the landmark occasion of the AFC Grassroots Day 2019 with a massive turnout of over twenty-one thousand participants across all categories.
From children’s football to beach soccer, women’s football and people with disabilities, the AIFF continued to work with key stakeholders to bring joy and enhance social development in various provinces as efforts to grow Grassroots football continues in the world’s second most populous nation.
AIFF general secretary Kushal Das believes that initiatives like the AFC Grassroots Day will only help to propagate the message of football to the masses.
“Grassroots are the building blocks of football development, and a celebration of that very much helps in bringing about the proper awareness for it,” said Mr Das. “The AFC Grassroots Day has brought football lovers from all walks of life together, giving a chance to children, veterans, people with disabilities and many more the opportunity to be a part of the beautiful game.”
The most popular format by far across the country, and one that has seen the maximum involvement from all stake holders, Children Football continues to be the most popular area of activities with a turnout of over 12,500 kids across the county lacing up their boots to celebrate the AFC Grassroots Day.
Festivals, clinics, tournaments, exhibition matches, Q&A sessions with coaches and professional players, social and educational campaigns were all part of the different activities held under the category.
Thousands of Grassroots Leaders actively involved across the vast expanse of the country have ensured that every region under the jurisdiction of the AIFF has contributed in the AFC Grassroots Day with various activities.
India has a thriving veteran’s football culture and with the redefinition of the Grassroots philosophy, several clubs and state association took the opportunity to invite over eight hundred and fifty players of yesteryears to participate in Veterans Exhibition Matches and Veterans Football tournaments conducted on AFC Grassroots Day. Given the popularity of the format, thousands of fans across all states turned out to witness the matches.
FOOTBALL FOR THE DISABLED
Multiple Clubs, NGOs and Football academies took up the cause of football for the disabled by conducting football festivals for children with special needs and disabilities.
The Indian Blind Football Federation conducted their National Level Championships for the visually impaired. Football festivals focused on a safe and fun environment for participants to improve their coordination and motor skills under the careful supervision of experts and volunteers alike.
With its miles of pristine beaches along the Arabian Sea, the state of Goa leads the way in Beach Football in India. Thanks to the contribution of both the professional clubs and the state-sponsored football program, the Goa Football Development Council and the Goa Football Association conducted multiple beach football tournaments on AFC Grassroots Day. Due to the popularity of the format among the local populace, there was a huge turnout in each of the events conducted over several famous beaches in the state.
YOUTH & AMATEUR FOOTBALL
With participants reaching up to almost 7,000 youth players in all, the AFC Grassroots Day proved to be an ideal platform to launch various Grassroots leagues, tournaments and clinics for both boys and girls across the country and stakeholders have shown the utmost interest in promoting the beautiful game through various competitions and initiatives among the upcoming generation of players. At the amateur level, more than 1,600 players participated in various activities across the country.
From the RESPECT Campaign for players, coaches and match officials to the various educational presentations on topics like injury prevention, hydration, nutrition, lifestyle choices and hygiene, the AFC Grassroots Day celebrations saw a range of different causes being highlighted by the various stakeholders to the assembled masses via the medium of football.
Certain organisations focused on women-centric emphasising on the importance of Women’s Rights and involvement of women in sports in India
Thanks to the direct involvement of the professional clubs and the growing popularity of the Indian National team and the professional clubs in the domestic circuit namely the Hero I-League and Hero Indian Super League, many superstars and crowd-favorites made appearances and participated in the festivals to engage with their fans and increase their fan-engagement, promote football and generate readership in the print, electronic and various social media platforms.