We will look for u-17 players until the registration closes: Scott O’Donell

Scott O Donell the Technical Director of AIFF Academies 26GUWAHATI: AIFF Technical Director Scott O’Donell mentions about the support he has received from AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das, the contribution of AIFF Academy project towards building the Team for the U-17 World Cup, keeping the selection doors open until the registration for the U-17 World Cup closes and much more.EXCERPTS:

Very often the AIFF Academy Programme is dubbed as a failure. How much of a pain is that, especially after AIFF being the flag bearer for YDP in the Country?

It is very disappointing to read and hear such comments because much of what has been written and said is simply not true. I have read that our Academy Programmes have closed down, or that we haven’t had a Head Coach, etc, etc. As I mentioned earlier, we are doing a lot more than many other Countries in Asia in regards to Youth Development.

I am not saying what we are doing is perfect. Far from it but given our resources, I am very proud of what we have achieved over the last four years. We still have a long way to go. Don’t get me wrong, but I think we are on the right track. We have identified some talented Players and Coaches, who I hope will go onto to bigger and better things.

The U-17 World Cup Team have also been part of the AIFF Academy Project for over two years, a contribution acknowledged by even Nicolai Adam, Head Coach, U-17 Team. As the Technical Director, how much satisfying was that?

I was extremely proud sitting in the stands in Tabriz watching the boys play, some of whom we have been working with for over two years. They have grown as young people and as Players. That is very satisfying. But once again, I reiterate, we have a long way to go.

The scouting process will continue and we will not stop looking for Players for the U17 World Cup until the registration window closes. The door will remain open until such times.

How much challenging has that been?

It has been very challenging at times, but I have had great support from Kushal (Das) and Rob Baan in the initial two years and I have had excellent support from all of my staff in Football House and in the different Academies.

We need all stakeholders pulling in the same direction for Indian Football to improve and grow and to be more competitive in Asia and on the World stage. We are kidding ourselves if we think it will just happen overnight. Belgium spent the last 15 years working on their Youth Development plan and it is only in the last few years are they seeing the fruits of their labour and hard work.

The AIFF is going on a scouting spree all over to select more talent for the U-17 World Cup Team. Educate us more.

We are currently undergoing another round of scouting across the Country, which we have broken up into three stages. The first stage will involve our scouts targeting those Schools, Private Academies and regions that have traditionally provided Players for our junior National Teams.

Those Players identified, will join those boys selected by the State Associations for stage two of the scouting process. During this stage, at least one member of Nicolai’s coaching staff will be present to select Players.

For Stage Three of the scouting process, which will be when Nicolai will travel to six centres identified by him, where he and his staff will be there to make the final call on the selection of Players to join the World Cup squad.

By Nilanjan Datta,
AIFF Media Team