Following the inauguration of the Talent Academy at Kalinga Stadium on Tuesday, Chief of Global Football Development at FIFA and former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said that the focus of the main initiative is to improve Indian Football. While speaking to the presenter, the legendary football coach said that they want to help India to educate their youth.
“We want to improve it (Indian football) and help India to educate their youth and that’s what is needed,” Wenger said. When asked about the motive of the Talent Academy, the British coach said that they want to identify the best talents in the country and give them quality training.
“What we want to achieve is to identify the best talents in the country and the second step is to put the best with the best. You put a good student in a bad class, he becomes a normal student when you put a good student with good students, it’s stimulating and it becomes even better and after that, we want to give quality coaching because we delegate of course a coach from FIFA and we want to cooperate with AIFF to develop that system in the whole country. We want to work together and improve Indian football,” he added. Wenger further added that he feels guilty looking at Indian Football since they are not at the top level even after having a population of 1.4 billion.
“I am a passionate football lover and I am fascinated as well by the history of India. Football is moving very fast, and sport is moving very fast all over the world. So, I cannot leave being responsible for the development of a game and think that big countries like India with 1.4 billion people are not on top-level football, it is criminal. I feel guilty about that even though they are improving and we see that in the game against Qatar. But there still some room and it is one of the obligations is to educate the children,” he added. When asked about their future plans, the 74-year-old said that they need to anticipate how football will work in the future and integrate into the training programme.
While concluding, Wenger confirmed that the new initiative is not only for the boys but also for the girls. “You have to imagine, we are in 2023, the place we start to educate now we play in 2030. So, we have to imagine how football be in 2030 we have to be inspired by sports science and India is a good country for that. We have to anticipate as well how football will work in the future and integrate into the training programme of the young players It is for the boys and girls that we want to do all over the world,” he concluded.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) and FIFA are partnering with the Government of Odisha in establishing this academy. The AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy was inaugurated in front of a full-house Kalinga stadium during India’s clash against Qatar in Round 2 of the FIFA World Cup 2026 and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 joint qualification campaign.