AIFF and FAO felicitate FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura in Bhubaneswar -

AIFF and FAO felicitate FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura in Bhubaneswar

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Khel Today Bureau

BHUBANESWAR: FIFA Secretary General Ms Fatma Samoura was  felicitated by the All India Football Federation and the Football Association of Odisha in Bhubaneswar. AIFF President Mr Kalyan Chaubey, Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran, Treasurer Mr Kipa Ajay, FAO Secretary Mr Asirbad Behera, along with members of the AIFF’s Executive Committee and a number of former and current India International footballers were present at the felicitation.

The FIFA Secretary General went on to later attend the opening day’s matches of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.

Speaking after her felicitation Ms Samoura said, “I had first come to India as a fresh graduate, when I was working for IFCO, and had the opportunity to see your country then. With pleasure I stand here again, and it’s good to see that the AIFF has ensured the football takes the centrepiece in India.

“With the population that India has, we are sure that it won’t be long before we see your country lifting the FIFA World Cup trophy. But what would be more pleasing to see is if your women’s team does it,” said Ms Samoura. “The FIFA President (Gianni Infantino) has also heard your request of hosting other senior competitions with other Member Associations, and I know you have the commitment, capacity, and the stamina to do so in a grand manner.”

The FIFA Secretary General also spoke in brief about the Football for Schools project that FIFA launched earlier this week in India, with the help of the AIFF, UNESCO, and the Government of India.

“We look forward to Football for Schools spreading to every district, bringing young girls and boys to football. With this programme, we will look to get the youth back to sports, and teach them life values that will make them better citizens for the future,” she said.

AIFF President Mr Kalyan Chaubey hailed the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup as a landmark event that would help galvanise not only women’s football, but also education as well.

“Our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji lays so much emphasis on the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao movement, and these are things that we cannot compromise on,” said Mr Chaubey. “The security, safety and education of young girls in India are a must. That is why we are looking to educate young girls and upgrade their football skills at the same time as well. This is how we can be a partner to the growth of women’s football.”

The AIFF President also said that the Federation management has identified the potentially vast market for Indian Football fans, and will be doing everything in it’s power to take it to a bigger stage.

“India has 1.4 crore population and so many support European clubs. These clubs also come down to India with their merchandise and to capitalise on this huge market. We have also realised the potential of this market and its opportunities, and we will work together with all our stakeholders so that we can give the biggest of stages to the sons and daughters of the soil,” said Mr Chaubey.

AIFF Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran welcomed Ms Samoura to India, and further went on to hail the Government of Odisha for its support to the Indian sporting ecosystem.

“Odisha is the land of opportunities in sports, and we must thank the Odisha Government for their constant support. They have changed the landscape, and together, we will work towards making Indian Football better,” said Dr Prabhakaran.

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