New Delhi, Nov 30 (UNI) Contunuing with its endeavour to improve the country's professional football structure, AIFF today signed a Protocol with Portuguese Professional League (LPFP) to share expertise mainly on development of youth teams and establishment of academies.
AIFF General Secretary Alberto Colaco and Liga Portuguese de Futebol Profissional (LPFP) Vice-President Ricardo Castanheira signed the protocol.
The protocol involves development of coaches and referees, sports medicine, technical and logistic interchange for the U-19 and U-16 teams, best practices to set up academies and training centers.
An agenda has also been set up for next year which includes a seminar in development of sports infrastructure, courses for referees, training camp and friendly matches for various Indian national teams and a match between a Portuguese League team and an AIFF team.
AIFF President Priyaranjan Dasmunsi thanked the Portuguese authorities for their cooperation in the past and sought continued help in future also.
''We (India and Portugal) have great football histories and I thank LPFP for hosting our national squad in August. That tour had helped us win the Nehru Cup,'' Dasmunsi said.
He asked the Portuguese delegation to tap the Indian market and raise their voice for India at the next UEFA League meeting regarding this.
Portugal's Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Laurentino Dias and LPFP's Executive Director Antonio Carlos Ramos were the other two members of the delegation.
Indian national squad had a three-week long training-cum-practice tour in Portugal in August before the Nehru Cup which India won by defeating Syria.
Castanheira invited AIFF top brass to visit Portugal to follow up the process and work out the details.
''We have good expertise in develpoment at grassroot and youth development and can contribute on this,'' Castanheira said.
''We have good football academy culture in Portugal. We have very good facilities for training and develop skills in young players.
India can learn our culture of rearing young talents,'' he added.
Castanheira also promised to send a top Portuguese club to India to popularise football but refused to divulge the name of the team.
''It will be known only after the visit of AIFF top brass,'' he said.
AIFF has been in the overdrive this year to strengthen India's professional structure and it has got support from AFC and FIFA.
The Federation had signed an MoU with Bundesliga and had sought help from Brazillian Football Federation to bring professionalism in Indian football.
India is one of the seven pilot countries in the Vision Asia development project along with neighbours Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Oman, Vietnam and China.
AFC President Mohamed bin Hammam has recently assured to continue to give full support to India's development in football through the Vision Asia Project.
Recently, an AFC Professional League Committee's Inspection team visited various cities in India, meeting with federation and club officials, touring training centres and stadia, and attending matches.
India's revamped I-League kicked-off on November 24, with 10 teams in the top division and a minimum of 12 teams in the second.