Mumbai: Former football striker Abhishek Yadav is performing multiple roles for development of the game in the country. He is actively involved in talent scouting and is the chief operating office of the Indian U-17 team, who are preparing for the Fifa U-17 World Cup, which is now less than 100 days away. The former Mahindra United and Mumbai FC forward was recently inducted in the All India Football Federation’s executive committee. He spoke to this newspaper on a number of issues. Excerpts:
On his role in the AIFF’s executive committee: I am happy and thankful to the All India Football Federation to have given me the opportunity. As a former India player, I feel it will be my duty to bring to the table two things: one, what an Indian footballer needs, two, what Indian football needs. At the same time, I look forward to interact with other administrators in the committee and work towards strengthening the football ecosystem in the country.
On his experience as the national scouts director and selection of players in the national team: It is a key role that I have been able to conduct with the support of the national team coaches and the AIFF. The Sports Authority of India has provided solid support. I am pleased with the number of activities we have been able to create under scouting. As a function, scouting in the AIFF is only poised to grow.
On his journey as COO of Indian U-17 national team: The journey has been fun because being on the road has allowed me to not miss my playing days that much.
But we have also realised on the way that the role itself has proved to be essential because the AIFF and the SAI have put in so much into this World Cup campaign.
On how hosts India will handle pressure: Not only in football but whenever you represent your country in any aspect there will be some pressure and expectations, which is a very normal thing. I believe we have not only developed players but have build characters and personalities in this team, who are capable of handling everything.
On the team’s overseas performance and expectations in the U-17 World Cup: The overseas performances have added to their overall development in a manner that has not happened before. It is something, which will stay on with a lot of these boys throughout their careers. Exposure trips have helped immensely and have surely worked well for us.
On the U-17 team’s engagements before the World Cup: The team is in the final phase of their preparations where we are looking at playing more international matches. It will be interesting to see the draw on July 7 in Mumbai....