'We will not come before you to sell dreams' - Kalyan Chaubey after becoming AIFF president
Kalyan Chaubey created history on Friday y winning the 2022 AIFF Elections and becoming the first-ever player-president who would head AIFF. However, he has clarified that his job would not be to sell long-shot dreams.
On Friday, All India Football Federation's (AIFF) new president Kalyan Chaubey said he would not "sell dreams" like India will play in the FIFA World Cup in eight years but will try to improve the game and its current standard. Chaubey triumphed over the legendary former Indian skipper Bhaichung Bhutia during the election for the top post, as AIFF got a former player as its president for the first time in its 85-year account. Thirty-three electoral college members voted for Chaubey, while Bhutia got just a vote. During the press conference following his election as the new AIFF president, Chaubey said he would not make "unrealisable promises".
"Hum aapke samne sapne bechne nahi aayeng ge. Ye nahi boleng ge ki humne phalana academy bana diya and humne aat saalme World Cup kheleng ge. [We will not come before you to sell dreams. We will not say that we have established so many academies and will play in the World Cup in eight years]," Chaubey stated.
"In my life, I have taken part in the inauguration of more than 100 academies. And, in all, it's been said that the kids will play in the World Cup in eight years. But, in reality, it doesn't happen like this. We are not making any promise, but we will say we will take Indian football forward from the current condition, and how much we will go forward will be worked out," added Chaubey.
Chaubey, a former goalkeeper for big clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, welcomed Bhutia to the executive committee as a co-opted member. "The contribution made by Bhaichung Bhutia in Indian football, very few players have done so. We welcome him," Chaubey continued.
"Ramayan mey setu ko baandhne mey gilharika bhumika raha, Hanuman ji akele setu ko baandh sakte the lekin usme gilharika bhumika raha toh bharatke football ko le janeke liye hum har byaktise unka bhumika aur sahayta leng ge [In Ramayan, Hanuman could have built the bridge (to Lanka) alone, but there was contribution from the squirrel. So, we will take help from each individual to take Indian football forward," affirmed Chaubey
After losing the presidential polls, Bhutia said he would be in the executive committee as a co-opted member. He said his committee will prepare a roadmap for Indian football 100 days from now. "I assure you that all the state associations will work together to take Indian football forward. In this regard, we will place our short-term plan before September 7. After that, this committee will have its first formal meeting in Kolkata on September 17-18," he informed.
"We have eminent players Shabbir Ali, IM Vijayan, Climax Lawrence and our two sisters [women players]. Our state associations have their challenges and dreams. We will discuss all these and after 100 days will prepare a roadmap for Indian football," Bhutia said. The 45-year-old BJP politician Chaubey said that FIFA president Gianni Infantino called him up following his election as AIFF president and asked for a meeting.
"He [Infantino] said we can meet up in Doha, Zurich or Paris. I said I would want to meet you for sure, but before that, we will discuss internally what we would ask from you. How can we take Indian football ahead technically and commercially? We will first understand this issue and meet you. He said 'excellent' and informed me that FIFA wants to work with India," conveyed Chaubey.
Chaubey said that the new executive committee has some seasoned administrators and former stars. "We have administrative expertise like seasoned administrators like Shaji Prabhakaran and former plater like IM Vijayan. It will take some time to take stock of the things in Indian football, and after 100 days, we will bring out the roadmap for Indian football," he spoke.
Prabhakaran is tipped to become the General Secretary, but no announcement was made on Friday. Sources said a statement might be issued in a day or two. "What the central or state governments can give you regarding facilities and infrastructure, we will try to understand it first. We will also speak to the government about how we can implement grassroots development in schools and how youngsters 6-12 years of age will play football. We want to associate with the school," clarified Chaubey.
"What are our deficiencies, and where do we need to move ahead? What kind of talent do we need, whether we want only finance or capacity building? We will mention it in the roadmap. Through the medium of grassroots football and with the help of the schools, we will reach up to one lakh children so they can have the football basics ready," Chaubey maintained.
Asked if working with AIFF could lead to political influence, Chaubey retaliated: "Can you name a federation in which the state or central government or a politician is not part of it?" Asked why he was not suggested or endorsed by his home state association of West Bengal, he expressed, "This question should be asked to Bengal. But, I assume that since Subrata Dutta was senior vice president [in the earlier AIFF executive committee], he was one of the potential presidential hopefuls. So they reserve that post for him."
"I was fortunate enough to get nominated from Gujarat. I have been associated with Gujarat for nearly ten months, travelled to some parts of Gujarat. But, my identity is first as a football player that nobody will deny," concluded Chaubey.
(With inputs from PTI)