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India Can Also be the Top Football Country in the Coming Future, Says DFA President Shaji Prabhakaran

In an interview with Transcontinental Times, Prabhakaran talked about his love for football, Indian football's future and many other things

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Khushant Runghe
Khushant Runghe
Covering the entertainment industry which includes reviewing movies, series, anime, comics and movies.

INDIA: Shaji Prabhakaran is a multi-talented personality who is currently the president of the Delhi Football Association (DFA) and a former FIFA Southeastern Central Asia development officer. 

He is the author of “Back to the Roots,” a definitive handbook on grassroots and football development, and has nearly 30 years of expertise in the football industry. 

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Prabhakaran started playing football for the local tea garden club in Biraguri, West Bengal, when he was 15 years old, and it rapidly became a significant part of his life.

In an interview with Transcontinental Times, Prabhakaran talked about his love for football, Indian football’s future and many other things.

Football: ‘An inspiration and life lesson’

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Prabhakaran acknowledges his admiration for football when asked about his inspiration or what pushed him to have such a strong interest in the game, saying, “I’m very fortunate that from a very young age of eight-nine, I was kind of involved in football because the football pitch was 500 metres away from my home and I could see many youths and seniors playing there and slowly-slowly we would also get the encouragement to play and that’s where the journey started.”

Prabhakaran reflected on his time as the FIFA Southeastern Central Asia Development Officer, saying that it was a fantastic opportunity for him to work with FIFA and manage south and central Asia and that it provided him with a lot of exposure and experience.

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He went on to say that the experience he received was a 360-degree experience and that he considers himself very fortunate to have been given that opportunity, which has given him a lot of strength and dedication, boosting his contribution to the game’s development.

Referring to football as a knowledgeable acquirement, Prabhakaran stated, “The learning what I got there is of great value for me and I have made so many friends across the world, they all are still in touch with me and that’s where you know football is my part of life and it’s my school of life as well.’’ 

The potential of India in football

“We also have the potential and we are not missing in many categories,” Prabhakaran says, describing India as the top football country in the future.

When asked about making football a national sport in India because most people watch cricket, Prabhakaran said it’s a difficult phenomenon because cricket is the most popular sport in the country. 

He added, “The good thing is many of the youths are taking football very seriously, they follow global football in a big way, as a recent example of Qatar world cup when FIFA opened the ticketing India was a seventh-ranked country in terms of ticket request.’’

“This shows the interest in what it has got and as far as players are concerned they really want to see you know India rise they want to contribute to the development of the game.’’ 

Prabhakaran expressed his desire to see more children participate in football, and he predicted that India will demonstrate its ability on the field in a few years.

Future plans with a focus on inclusion

Prabhakaran reveals his future plans for developing football in India, he refers to Delhi as a huge potential that accommodates his vision to make Delhi a vibrant football state in India and grow the game from grassroots to the top.    

He also added, ’’To be inclusive in our work, we give equal opportunity to girls and we’ve got the largest women’s league in India with 24 teams. You know we want to grow and see more women take-ups football and we want to put football as the number one sport for girls.’’

When talking about the sports ecosystem, Prabhakaran mentions how the popularity of a game is determined by the player’s aspirations and skillset, which form their identity as a brand that ultimately attracts more people to the game.

Prabhakaran talked about his work when questioned about his motivation for breaking into the realm of literature. Since completing his degree, he has longed to publish a book.

He added further, “Because I’ve done my research on Indian football, why India is not doing well, what needs to be done, what are the gaps so that I wanted to write but then you know I didn’t have the motivation at that time to write.’’

“During my tenure with FIFA, I visited too many countries in South America, Europe, and Asia where I found that football still has a huge scope to develop and grow. All the experiences I thought I should share so that whoever wants to contribute to football can gain something in my book that might encourage them.’’ 

Prabhakaran believes that it is important to work hard for the clubs at the local level that serves as a competitive structure for the players.

He went on to say that the North East is full of hidden talents and has an environment that could fit in anywhere in the country. 

“It’s an opportunity for us to put a system in place to encourage everyone to be a part of football,” he said.

Watch the video here:

Also Read: India Gives a Lot of Chances and Opportunities Than Other Parts of the World, Says German-Indian Actress Suzanne Bernert

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