FC ODISHA goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh was selected to be part of the AIFF Elite Academy when he was 17 years old.
The AIFF founded the academy to help develop footballers in the country.
Mr Singh told Desi Sportscast: “When I went to the AIFF academy, they came for a tournament I was playing for Chandigarh Football Academy, for the academy team, so we were in the final, they saw me there and asked me for trials.”
He travelled to Mumbai, where he was selected for the academy.
Mr Singh added: “When I saw the training there, when I saw the system there, it was on a whole different level for me.
“Because when I was training in Chandigarh, the training was good but when you go at that level, when you see the coaches there, the level of football, I raised my level.
“I have learned how to build up, how to play tiki-taka football there, because they didn’t allow us to kick from the back, even if they were six attackers, we cannot kick, we have to find an option.”
Mr. Singh is now 23 and has played for Minerva Punjab in the I-League as well as FC Odisha in the Indian Super League.
The move by the AIFF to reorganize their youth development networks in the early 2010s has begun to pay dividends.
In 2019, India won the South Asian Football Federation’s (SAF) U18 Championship in Nepal.India had a slow start, drawing 0-0 in the first match with Bangladesh in the group stage, before beating Sri Lanka 3-0.
Both goalscorers, Gurkirat Singh, who scored a brace, and Aman Chetri, had previously been a part of the AIFF Elite Academy.
The Maldives were dispatched 4-0 in the semi-final with another academy alumnus Ninthoinganba Meetei among the goals.
Bangladesh was then defeated 2-1 in the final.
India also won the SAF U-15 Championship on home soil in the same year.
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