|    February 24th, 2015   |   90

NEW DELHI(AIFF/N4C Sports)- All India Football Federation (AIFF) signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Japan Football Federation at a snazzy Hotel in the Capital on 24 February. AIFF-Praful PatelThe MOU intends to ‘intensify the football cooperation and strengthen the relations between AIFF and JFA.’

Praful Patel, President, All India Football Federation who signed on the dotted lines with his Japanese counterpart Daini Kuniya, President, Japan Football Federation felt the agreement would help to “improve and better the game in India.”

“I am honored that the JFA has taken this decision to have an MOU with us. We have a long road ahead and I am very grateful to our Japanese friends for agreeing to this deal.”

Yagi Takeshi, Japanese Ambassador to India who was also present on the occasion added: “I would like to congratulate both JFA and AIFF on the signing of the MOU.”

“There are around 20 Japanese Football Players in India and that shows how long our cooperation with India has been,” he stated.

Daini Kuniya, President of JFA emphasized that the partnership will be “very valuable and it will contribute to deepen the friendship and trust” nurturing Football.”

“We are quite impressed with the rapid increase of popularity of Football in India,” he pronounced.

Mr. Patel maintained that India is “learning from a Nation which has itself set an example” for others to follow.

“With their cooperation we can also achieve what they have done. This is a MOU where intend to utilize the strengths of each other to take Indian Football forward. There would be an exchange of Players and technicalities. Japan is one of the best examples for Indian Football to follow. The reason is that not long back Japan were not one of the powerhouses in Football but since then, they have build themselves and are now among the best Teams in Asia.”

“India have been awarded the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup and this will be one of the many steps taken in the direction in improving the game in India. We would also be bidding for Club World Cup and the U-20 World Cup,” he said.

As per the MOU, both Federations would also exchange knowledge on Coach Education, Grassroots and also revitalizing Women’s Football in India. The agreement paves the way for a Japanese Head Coach for the Indian Senior Women’ National Team.

Furthermore, there would also be an exchange of knowledge on operating the Football Academies through Friendly matches between Academy Teams and invitation to Academy Teams to the Tournaments in each Country.

“We will adopt JFA practices and our U-17 Team will play much more International Football which is pertinent in building a competitive Team for the U-17 World Cup. Our Team will go to Japan to play and compete,” the AIFF President informed.

Stressing on the necessity of a successful Grassroots Programme, Mr. Patel added: “We are trying in our own way to build a strong Grassroots Programme. The inaugural edition of Hero Indian Super League demonstrated that there is a lot of hidden talent in India. We need to unearth it.”

Moreover, Mr. Patel also informed about India holding the AFC Awards Ceremony later this year in November. “We are going to host the AFC Awards this year. I think this will also be significant because all of the World will be here in November and we can demonstrate how we have improved.”