It’s a great opportunity for me to give back to the sport, says Bhaichung Bhutia

New Delhi, Aug 26 (IANS): After submitting his new nomination for the post of President of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia said on Friday it was a great opportunity for him to give back to the sport.

Amid the frenetic activity in the AIFF surrounding the submission of nominations for the Executive Committee elections, Bhutia, 45, submitted his new nomination for President on Thursday. His nomination was proposed by Andhra Football Association President Gopalkrishna Kosaraju and supported by Rajasthan Football Association President Manvendra Singh.

“I am here for the improvement of Indian football. I would like to be part of the administration and work for Indian football. The sport needs reforms in the country. Today I’ve become what I’ve become just because of football “I’m a Padma Shri because of that. I’ve played for India for 16 years; this is my moment to give something back to my sport. It needs reforms with the (FIFA )Forbidden,” Bhutia said during a news conference on Friday.

“Whatever happened in the past happened. It (AIFF) was run by businessmen and politicians. You know, today at least I am not affiliated or affiliated with any major national party. I can go to any state today, be it a Congress, BJP NCP, DMC, or JD-governed state…I can go to any state because I’m not affiliated with any political party,” he added.

Bhutia, who has capped more than 100 caps for India, was full of praise for former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, who is performing very well as President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

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“Sourav Ganguly, one of the all-time greats of Indian cricket, is doing such a great job as President of the Indian Cricket Board. He’s just an example. Why can’t other players do the same? So, my thing is that once I get into the association (AIFF), we can work.

“I am already working with the government and I can assure you that the All India Football Federation (AIFF) will work with all national associations and the government to improve the sport. We’ll be able to work and do a much better job that way,” he said.

Speaking about the fight with former goalkeeper and current BJP leader Kalyan Chaubey, who is also in contention for the presidential post and is said to be the front runner for the post, Bhutia said:

“I invite Kalyan Chaubey to the discussion. We sit together and have a debate about Indian football. Convince me with your ideas and I will be willing to work with you. I think it’s about time you know that athletes have a say and can fight for the presidency and win and do a good job, I’m sure and I’m confident that I can do it.

“I have that experience. I have that knowledge and I have beautiful plans that we can look at for Indian football to thrive. I mentioned that centers of excellence are something that we want to have across the states so that the states can start producing quality players,” he said.

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