Bhaichung Bhutia: Three things I would do if I become AIFF president

Bhaichung Bhutia has started working towards it, but admits there's a lot more to the top posting than just football acumen.

The former India captain said he would love to take up the position in the future.   -  Sudhakara Jain

Former Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia wants to run Indian football in the near future as the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) president. The 43-year-old has begun working towards it by joining the Sikkim football association, but admits there's a lot more to the top posting than just football acumen.

“The AIFF president role is something I would love to consider in the future. I might not be ready right now but I think that’s a position I would love to take,” Bhutia told Sportstar in an Instagram Live session on Thursday.

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“But again, getting the role comes down to votes and politics and it is not easy. You don’t get into that position because of what you can contribute or the amount of knowledge and exposure you have of the game, it comes down to politics. So I will have to try and fight that out,” he said.

Talking about the changes he would bring about if he took charge of the national body, he said: “The first thing I would do is bring relegation and promotion within the next two to three years – I think it has to be brought in. I would also make sure every club has its own grassroots development program. The AIFF has put a criterion for clubs and I would focus more on that. I would want to see how clubs can safeguard and keep their young talents with them. I would also encourage clubs to build infrastructure on their own.”

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He added, “But most importantly, I would see to it that those state associations which do not organise any leagues…I would not let any of their members be a part of the AIFF executive committee. Because in the end, it’s the state associations who need to work.”

Working closely with the Sikkim football association, Bhutia also stressed on the many challenges of bringing about change in the system. “Being here I have come to know it’s not easy to handle people. You have your ideas and thoughts and you have to make sure they agree with it. People who have not even played school level football are members of the association and to convince them that this is the way we need to look forward is so challenging. They have a typical mindset that what they think is right and to change that it becomes very difficult. To deal with 60-year-olds who have been thinking like that all along is a challenge,” he said.

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