Expressing frustration over the lack of effort and professionalism on part of the state and district associations, former India football captain Baichung Bhutia today said CEOs and development officers should be appointed at those places to keep a tab on the progress ahead of the 2017 Under-17 World Cup.
"Most of the district and state associations have never shown interest to conduct age-group tournaments in their places. No state would come forward with such initiative," Bhutia said during the International Football Convention at FICC here.
States, which are willing to appoint professionals, will be helped by the All India Football Federation as far as appointments are concerned, Bhutia, who is also the chairman of AIFF's technical committee, said.
India had won the bid to host the Under-17 World Cup and Bhutia said yesterday that AIFF should start preparing to put up a quality team at the prestigious tournament to compete against the top sides.
Referring to non-payment of dues by Mohun Bagan to some of their players, Bhutia said the federation, clubs and state associations "should be more professional in dealing with such issues".
National football team coach Wim Koevermans and technical director Rob Baan said preparations are on the right track and kids born in or after 2000 are already being shortlisted keeping the event in mind.
Baan said that the master plan designed for the U-17 World Cup will enormously boost the spirit of players and will encourage them to take up the sport.
"This World Cup marks the beginning of putting AIFF on football map. It is the first step for India to be recognised as a football playing nation," he said.
Koevermans added that four academies have come up where 120 selected players from all over India are being given professional guidance and are gearing for selection in the National football team.
"Specific training programmes for goalkeepers and children between the age of 6-12 years have been designed. New training processes and curricular have been formulated for coaching the players," he said.
Koevermans said that the U-17 World Cup is a blessing for India.
"This World Cup will leave a big legacy for Indian football."
He added that it was the duty and responsibility of the AIFF to give opportunities to boys, girls and disabled youngsters to play football.
"Earlier there was no guidance but in the last 20-30 years individual initiatives by corporates and the government has helped the young players at the grassroot level to come out and play.
"The national team will be travelling between 160 and 140 in the FIFA Rankings for the next few years. That is the reality. You need people to jump into the bus that is going in the right direction, rather than sulking over things," Koevermans said during the inaugural morning session of the two-day 'FICCI GOAL 2014 India Football Summit'.
Baan, while charting an inclusive pathway for the 'Road to 2017', said: "I know that there are a lot of obstacles such as budgets, infrastructure and facilities. But we need the right kind of module followed religiously and in a systematic manner."
Earlier in the day, Shaji Prabhakaran, FIFA Development Officer for Central and South Asia said in his inaugural address: "We are 156 today, it is a culmination of the work that has been done in the last four-five decades."