A welcome start

Dignitaries during the inauguration of GIFT 2014 at the Shyama Prasad Auditorium in Panjim.-

Backed by a pro-football government, Goa International Football Table (GIFT) has everything going for it. A government-funded project is something that any federation or state association would lap up in a hurry, and the GFDC is no different. Avinash Nair writes.

The Goa International Football Table (GIFT) is no doubt a gift to Goa and Indian football. However, it remains to be seen, if the organisers, the Goa Football Development Council (GFDC), make the most of it.

On paper, the second edition of the GIFT was brilliant. But so was the first edition in March last year. However, practical application of what was discussed in the first year has been minimal.

Backed by a pro-football government, GIFT has everything going for it. A government-funded project is something that any federation or state association would lap up in a hurry, and the GFDC is no different.

From a meagre six centres last year it has grown immensely and had a whopping 17-plus centres this time round. Over 2600 children in the under-12 category attended the programme, making it a grand success.

The two-day summit did throw a lot of insights into the bane of Indian football and even provided solutions for them.

But the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) chose to ignore the event. AIFF Secretary General Kushal Das, laid low by serious health concerns, had to give the event a miss, and none of his colleagues bothered to step in and take his place. Even the Goa Football Association (GFA) did not bother to make a token appearance, barring past Secretary Alberto Colaco, who was being felicitated.

Still GFDC did get some of its arithmetic right with the grassroot development programme seemingly running on track. But without the active support of the AIFF and GFA the whole exercise is bound to fall flat.

The programme surely needs to be given some time to bear fruit, but nevertheless it was heartening to see former India players like Gurdev Singh and Sukhwinder Singh expressing their willingness to adopt the GIFT model in their home state of Punjab.