Baichung Bhutia in an Instagram live session with the All Indian Football Federation (AIFF). (source: @IndianFootball twitter handle)

Former Indian football team captain Baichung Bhutia once again speaks up about Indian football and where it is lacking. He said that only by focusing on the grassroots level we can make players like Sunil Chhetri. The Former captain said during an Instagram live session with the All Indian Football Federation (AIFF).

We need to produce bigger better players from the grassroots: Baichung Bhutia

He said during Instagram live with AIFF, “We need to produce good quality players. That’s very important when I say that I don’t mean we don’t have good players now. But to compete in Asia and at the world level we need to produce bigger better players from the grassroots.”

Bhutia said hosting U-17 World Cup was a step in the right direction, “Hosting the under-17 World Cup as a starting point for us. It is important for our age group players to participate in competitions, have good training facilities and coaches.”

He added, “These are things that will help in the long run. We still need to be strong in the grass root for the national team to make progress. We should be qualifying for the Asia Cup in under-17 and under-15 quite regularly. The under-17 World Cup is a great step taken by the government and AIFF. For us, it’s important to host under 17s,19s, 21s because that is where we focus more on the grassroots.”

Baichung thinks that women’s team is faring better than men’s at least at the junior level.

He said, “In Asia, a lot of countries don’t have women’s teams like in the Gulf countries don’t have a girl’s team playing under 17. Chances of women qualifying for Asian championship as compared to men is much better. The kind of support, platform competitions they are playing, the coaching staff the players are getting right now is much much better than what we got. The number of matches the national team plays is three-four times more than we played in our initial stages.”

He added, “In 2008, ’09 and ’10, we played quite a few but when I started playing in 1995, I still remember few years we had just two or three matches the entire year- just one qualifying for WC or pre Olympics.