Former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia feels that investing in grassroots development is the only way to take the game forward in the country.
He said footballers of all ages in the country should have enough competitive matches to be able to do well in international tournaments “You need to invest in the youth, grassroots development and then the player and the club benefit out of it, and that’s how football grows in the country. This is the only way if you want to take football forward in India,” Bhutia told PTI on the sidelines of an event here on Tuesday.
“We have to reach out to the kids at rural, district and state levels. Sadly, we are not making them compete. Kids are not being able to train and compete within their age group. That’s been the biggest challenge.” The legendary striker also advocated the need to adopt the formula followed by European clubs, which invest in young talent and groom them to become quality players.
“This model should be replicated by Indian football clubs. That’s how you invest in grassroots. You are looking at grassroots very raw and then taking talent and training to become a great asset for the club and the country, that’s where the club also generates revenue,” Bhutia said.
“A lot of clubs in Africa and South America get raw talent from the grassroots, train them and then sell them to big clubs in Europe. They go back and play for their country, and that’s where the country also benefits from the talent.
“That’s how football grows. This is the model which I think helps.”