Praful Patel elected as AIFF president


New Delhi: Praful Patel was elected unopposed as the All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Tuesday and the Union Minister wasted no time in listing out his priorities to take Indian football to world standards.

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The civil aviation minister was elected to the top post at the Annual General Body meeting of the AIFF at its headquarters here.

Patel had taken over as acting president of the AIFF ever Priyaranjan Dasmunsi has been admitted to a hospital after a stroke last October.

“I will be doing everything to uplift football in the country and try to make it more popular sport in India.”

Patel told reporters this evening that he was looking forward to “more commitment” from the domestic clubs and the players when it comes to playing for the country.

Domestic clubs had not been forthcoming in releasing the players for national preparatory camps.

“We want players to be available more for the national side. We need more commitment from the players and the clubs,” Patel said.

“Whatever is the compensation needed (for the clubs) can be worked out.”

“I am happy that we won ONGC Nehru Cup twice which paved the way to regain the sport’s old glory in India. We have also qualified for the Asian Cup after 24 years. In a way, its the beginning of a new era.”

“India’s performance has been good in recent times. We have send the team to Barcelona and Dubai for training. This (training) will go on extensively and on a regular basis till the 2011 Asian Cup.”

“There are lot of challenges in front of us. I would like to place on record the federation’s appreciation over the Indian team’s creditable performance in recent years. The team led by Bhaichung Bhutia has developed into a fighting unit and they are committed to their goal.”

Patel also thanked the Board of Control for Cricket in India for announcing a grant of Rs 25 crore for the sport.

“I thank the cricket board. It’s remarkable that they have sanctioned Rs 25 crore. It doesn’t happen that one sport body supporting another. We have already received Rs 12.5 crore. The money will go for the sport to develop from grassroot to national level. I also thank the Minister of Sport for his commitment to support football in India.”

“The game is widely followed in India and it has the potential to become a more popular sport in future.”

“Many foreign clubs have shown interest to develop the sport in India. It gives me an impression that they are not looking at short term goals, but are willing for a long haul.”

Patel declared goalkeeper Subrata Paul, who played a stellar role in India’s Nehru Cup victory, as the “Footballer of the Year”

“He has been outstanding and he deserve this award.

Patel also felicitated Bhaichung Bhutia for playing 100 matches for the country.