Newly-elected FIFA council member Praful Patel, on Saturday said he will use his position in the world body for the greater good of Indian football.
Speaking to IANS, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) president said he would soon resolve the crisis that has arisen after seven I-League teams decided to boycott the Super Cup.
“I am happy with the victory here, because my election to FIFA council is also a proud moment for India. I also feel personally honoured to become the first Indian to represent the country in the council of the world body, which is a prestigious thing,” said Patel, moments after a record-breaking victory during the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Congress in Kuala Lumpur.
“This will help us to develop Indian football, help us to get more FIFA competition, more developmental funds, everything….it will help Indian football in the long run,” he added.
A total of 5 candidates including Patel were elected to FIFA in addition to the AFC president, and one female member for the 2019-2023 term. Patel secured the highest number of votes among the candidates, getting 38 votes out of a possible 46. In the AFC Congress, he was accompanied by AIFF senior vice president Subroto Dutta and general secretary Kushal Das.
The AIFF boss said Indian football would remain his biggest priority despite being elected to FIFA. “My responsibility is Indian football. This position I have gained today would be also to use and help Indian football. I have to use this opportunity to take it to greater heights,” he said.
Asked whether his elevated position in FIFA would help the Indian national team since it has been doing relatively well at the international level, Patel said: “That is one place where we have to work hard at the grassroots and increase all other activities to take the team forward. Of course I will use this position to get more international friendlies for India.”
Patel said there was no going back on his promise to meet the I-League clubs this month.
“We will find a solution to the problem. The work is in progress. You should know, I am in the middle of elections. I have national election in hand and till today had this FIFA election. I promised to meet them (the clubs) after 11th. I will meet them. I have already told them about it,” said Patel.
On Patel’s election, Das said “We at AIFF are extremely proud of him. This is a major development for India’s football fraternity. Best wishes on his new endeavour”.
Congratulating Patel, Dutta said: “He fully deserves this honour. His leadership has taken Indian football to higher heights. Asian football will immensely benefit from his presence as a FIFA Council member.”
Fitness & mental clarity will be key in this year’s IPL, feels Suresh Raina
Veteran India and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) batsman Suresh Raina feels fitness and clarity of thought will be the key when players take the field to participate in the 13th edition of of the Indian Premier League (IPL) which will be played in the UAE.
The BCCI will be organising the league at three venues — Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah — from September 19 to November 10 after it was postponed from March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This IPL, it would be very interesting to see how players are thinking, you are playing in different circumstances, you have a lot of protocols from ICC and at the same time, you are going through tests every two-three weeks, so I would say coming out from all those tests, you need to be clear with your head on what you are going to do on the field because at the end of the day when you are playing a sport, you need to enjoy your game,” Raina said on Wednesday during a webinar interaction on the sidelines of the launch of WTF fantasy gaming app.
“Then you can come out of the ground as a happy soul. So I believe, all tests will be done before the IPL and we will be in a good frame of mind because we all are sitting at home from last five months. I’m looking forward to this,” added the 33-year old who along with India women’s team T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur are the brand ambassadors for WTF fantasy gaming app.
Raina, the second highest run-getter in IPL history, also opined the wickets in Dubai would be like the ones in Chennai.
“There (wickets in Dubai) could be Chennai wickets. In this pandemic, a lot of challenges have happened (for the players) and fitness is the key,” he said.
“Luckily, we are going early in the UAE, so I think, right now there is humidity in Dubai, the weather is 40 degrees Celsius, sandstorm is there, but the best thing in Dubai is that you don’t have logistical problems, it is 45 minutes from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, you go from there to Sharjah, it’s 40 minutes,” said Raina who was part of the 2011 World Cup-winning team.
The left-handed batsman also said during this long break due to the pandemic, he got time to reflect on the time he spent on the field and analyse his performances over the years.
“We have not had such a long break. You look back at your old innings. You reflect on what you were thinking at that time and try to analyse. So when I hit the greens now, I feel we will enjoy a lot this time,” Raina said.
Banking on mental strength & fitness to do well, says Harmanpreet Kaur
A long break can create doubts in your mind, but India’s T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur is banking on her mental strength and physical activity during the lockdown period to fire in the Women’s T20 Challenger games which will take place during the playoffs of the IPL in the UAE. The team has not played since the T20 World Cup final in March.
“When there is a long break and after that however good touch you are in, you start doubting yourself,” Harmanpreet said on Wednesday during a webinar interaction on the sidelines of the launch of WTF fantasy gaming app. Harmanpreet and veteran India batsman Suresh Raina are the brand ambassadors.
“Mental strength helps here and if you are mentally strong, it’s a long break. But I am not going to give up. Initially, I might have fear of injury but we have the advantage of working on our strength while at home. Those things are going to help us on the field. But physically we have tried to keep ourselves fit during this lockdown,” said the 31-year old.
Harmanpreet added that she is excited to play in the UAE for the first time.
“Yes definitely, I’m excited because this is our first tour to Dubai and we haven’t played there before. I had questions like how would the wickets be there, as a batter we need to think about these things. We need to play on our strength because if you don’t play to your strengths, then your natural game doesn’t come out.
“It is a very good idea to see the ball and play. Everybody has to remain clean on this idea and I hope that we grab the opportunity that we get. I hope we play good cricket in the four games that we will get and entertain everybody,” she said.
Phased restart of training at SAI NCOEs from Oct 1, says kiren Rijiju
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday said that the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) National Centres of Excellence (NCOE) across the country will be opened in a “phased manner” starting on October 1.
In a review meeting held by the ministry and SAI, Rijiju also said that the re-opening of the NCOEs will be done only in accordance to the COVID-19 situation in the respective state.
Athletes who will be initially allowed for training apart from the elite athletes who are in the mix for the Tokyo Olympics would be juniors who have been shortlisted in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) Junior scheme.
Additionally, it has also been decided that the funds extended to all SAI NCOEs will be enhanced.
“Funds will be provided to upgrade existing infrastructure and equipment or procure new ones, as per the need of athletes. We are ready to provide all support needed to ensure that athletes in India have the best facilities at par with the world,” said Rijiju.
It has also been decided to increase awareness workshops held at the NCOEs including workshops on sexual harassment act with aim to make athletes aware of sexual harassment issues and about the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and motivate them to speak up against any form of harassment.
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