The first-ever "International Football Arena" Round Table was held at the Imperial in New Delhi on Thursday. It also happened to be the IFA's first event on India soil as India had been a topic at their Zurich Congress in November 2008. And I personally feel it was a successful day of discussions. It gave people the chance to understand the problems and opportunities within Indian football, also creating the chance of dialogue amongst the stakeholders. And this clearly looks to be missing currently in Indian football.
The Round Table was a closed door event with presence from the AIFF, national coach Bob Houghton, I-League clubs, Academies, corporates, sponsors, international sports brands along with international guests from Chelsea FC (England) and Portugal. This group of 20 people came together for the round table, which was actually square, but it did serve its purpose of allow people with different backgrounds and knowledge to talk about Indian football.
And we need more such forms of interaction as people showed their passion for Indian football, but also discussed critical issues linked to development. This also made my job easier as the moderator as I didn't have to push participants too much to take part as they were willing to interact.
Amongst the topics discussed were the I-League and its professional future, why the AIFF decided to field their own Under-19 team in the I-League, the streamlining and standardization of the calendar, Foreign Clubs and their entry into the market, Team India's future and should we have a Football IPL.