Mumbai: Football will get a big boost in the country if India succeeds in its bid to host the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, a top functionary of AIFF said on Friday.

"It (hosting of FIFA U-17 World Cup) will be a big boost for Indian football and give players and all the coaches a lot of motivation to work even harder to ensure that we have a competitive team," said Scott O'Donnell, who is the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) Technical Director of Academies and Director of Coach Education.

In case India hosts the event, the national Under-17 squad would get a direct entry into the tournament.

The Australian is conducting the AIFF 'D' Licence course along with the federation's Technical Director Rob Baan and AIFF instructors from Maharashtra's state association WIFA.

India are currently ranked 168th in the world but O'Donnell felt too much was made of the ranking, which he said can be improved once the country defeats a couple of higher ranked teams.

"If you look at the FIFA ranking (for India) it's self explanatory, but too much emphasis is put on rankings. For a country like India, if you win a couple of games against higher ranked teams, rankings would improve," said O'Donnell, who had been the national coach of Cambodia for four years.

He said Indian players were short of match play as compared to most other countries and a master plan will be unveiled by Baan next week to overcome this deficiency.

"In India players don't play enough, they play may be 15-16 games a year. In Australia it's 40 and Europe 50 or 60 and the league goes on for eight months. For under 13 of 14, it depends on which state (the player belongs). It may be 1-2 -3 weeks. It's not enough. You got to play all the time.

"Technical director Baan is going to launch his master plan next Tuesday. He will detail in what we are going to do about (rectifying) it," he said.

O'Donnell said it would need tens of thousands of practice hours for a player to rise to the top echelons of the game.

"In the class room on Thursday we were talking about the number of training hours to become an elite athlete. The world average is about 10,000 hours. You do the sum and work it out (how long it will take to reach that level for Indian players). This was where the different academies that are being set up by the AIFF would be important," said O'Donnell.

"A lot of work needs to be done in terms of grassroots development, in terms of coaches, in terms of academies. One academy is up and running in Navi Mumbai, two more are opening up in December in Bangalore and one in Pailan (Bengal). Next year, four are opening up apart from the Elite Academy.

"That's what we are trying to do, to give the talented players the best of opportunities. We have FIFA's grassroots project in Mizoram. We will have another one in Kalyani (Bengal) in December, for boys and girls between 6 and 12 years of age, giving them opportunity to play football."

The AIFF was targeting not only school going children but even others, O'Donnell said. "We are targeting anyone who wants to play football. Obviously we need the cooperation of the schools as that's where the kids are. We are going to rely heavily on states. Henry (Menezes) (WIFA CEO) has a plan."

On the coaches 'D' License course, O'Donnell said the AIFF chose Mumbai as WIFA (Western India Football Association) was very proactive in this area.

"We chose Mumbai to conduct this first upgraded course because WIFA is by far the most active state association when it comes to conducting 'D' License courses. WIFA has 12 current AIFF 'D' License instructors for this refresher course," he remarked.

(Agencies)

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