Toal: Two-month long camp awaits the selected U-14 kids

Colm Joseph Toal, the Head Coach of the AIFF Youth Development, is one of the most underrated persons working in Indian football. Since he has come to India over four years back, he has done his job in Indian football youth development quietly. Now with the four Regional Academies soon to be set-up and the AIFF U-14 Football Fest being used to spot talent for these Academies, it marks a new era in Indian football. The AIFF Spoke to Colm about the U-14 Fest, the selection process and the future of Indian football.

There were nine selectors in the AIFF U-14 Football Fest in Kalyani, West Bengal. How many boys have they spotted?

The nine selectors have had a close look at all the boys and we have spotted 75 boys from different state teams who would be a part of a future Coaching-cum-Selection Camp beginning in March.

How long would the Camp last? Would you have a look at more boys in the Camp?

We intend to begin the Camp from the second week of March. The 75 boys chosen from the Fest would be there for three weeks from which 30 boys would be shortlisted. The shortlisted 30 kids would represent India in the AFC U-14 Football Festival scheduled to be held in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The 30 boys would then be joined by a new bunch. The lot would comprise of boys chosen from the Subroto Cup, the U-16 Nationals (boys born in 1998) and the set of boys chosen by Scott O'Donell from Open Trials. The Camp would go on till mid-May from which the batches for the Regional Academies would be finalised.

Are you satisfied with the quality of the boys you have chosen from the AIFF U-14 Football Fest?

The boys are good but are not necessarily the best in the country. The same pertains to the set of boys who were shortlisted from the U-16 National Championship. It's unfortunate the State Associations are not selecting and sending their best teams for such Championships.

Could you elaborate?

I can give you an example. The Meghalaya State Football Association had a three-week Preparatory Camp ahead of the AIFF U-14 Football Fest. They had 18 district teams playing against each other from where they selected the best boys. And it's evident in their play in Kalyani. Had all State Associations addressed it likewise, we could have got the best boys playing here.

Are you happy with the manner the AIFF U-14 Football Fest has been conducted?

Kalyani is a small suburban town and arranging a fest of such a magnitude without any hiccups speaks volumes for the organisers. We shouldn't forget we had 590 boys from 27 State Teams staying, eating, travelling and playing together.

I wish we had more fields of the same quality in other States as the two playing fields at the Kalyani Stadium. The infrastructure here is magnificent!

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