All India Football Federation Announces U-17 National Camp in Srinagar

On June 26, 2024, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) revealed the names of 31 probables for the U-17 national camp set to commence in Srinagar from July 8. This camp is part of the preparations for the upcoming SAFF U-17 Men’s Championship 2024, which will take place in Bhutan from September 18 to 28. The Indian team is grouped with Maldives and Bangladesh in Group A, while Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka comprise Group B.

The squad’s training in Srinagar will extend beyond the SAFF Championship as they gear up for the 2025 AFC U-17 Asian Cup Qualifiers, scheduled for October 2024 in Thailand. This detailed article will explore the significance of this camp, the players involved, the strategic importance of the location, and the broader impact on Indian football’s youth development.

The Significance of the U-17 National Camp
Building Future Stars:
The U-17 national camp is a critical step in nurturing future football talents for India. The players selected for this camp represent the next generation of footballers who will potentially carry the nation’s hopes in international competitions. The camp aims to provide these young athletes with rigorous training, professional coaching, and the experience necessary to excel at higher levels of the sport.

Historical Context:
The current squad includes several players who were part of the Indian team that won the SAFF Men’s U-16 Championship in Bhutan last September. This continuity is vital as it allows the team to build on existing chemistry and experience, fostering a cohesive unit capable of achieving success in future tournaments.

Preparation for Major Tournaments:
The camp is not only focused on the upcoming SAFF U-17 Men’s Championship but also serves as preparation for the AFC U-17 Asian Cup Qualifiers. Competing in these high-stakes tournaments will provide invaluable experience to the young players, helping them to develop their skills under pressure and perform on international stages.

The Players: A Glimpse into the Future of Indian Football
The 31 probables selected for the camp represent a mix of talent from various regions and backgrounds. Here’s a closer look at the players, grouped by their positions:


Aheibam Suraj Singh
Nandan Ray

Thongram Rishikanta Singh
Lekhachandra Phairembam
Mohammed Kaif
Asher Rebello
Yaipharemba Chingakham
Usham Thoungamba
Chingtham Renin Singh
Karish Soram
Abdul Salha
Jodric Abranches

Ngamgouhou Mate
Lunkhongam Chongloi
Kishor Tiwari
Laishram Suraj Singh
Levis Zangminlun
Banlamkupar Rynjah
Mohammad Sami
Vishal Yadav
Manbhakupar Malngiang
Mohammad Shameel
Mohammad Arbash
Brahmacharimayum Sumit Sharma

Ginminhao Khongsai
Prem Hansdak
Ahongshangbam Samson
Lairenjam Bharat
Hemneichung Lunkim
Dhriten Mehra
These players were selected based on their performances in the U-17 youth league and scouting efforts. The diversity and depth of talent in this squad reflect the growing pool of young footballers in India, eager to make their mark on the international stage.

Strategic Importance of the Srinagar Camp
High Altitude Training:
Srinagar, with its high altitude, offers an ideal training environment for the players as they prepare for the SAFF Championship in Bhutan, which also has a high-altitude climate. Training at similar altitudes helps players acclimatize to the conditions, enhancing their endurance and performance during the tournament.

Enhanced Focus and Discipline:
Holding the camp in Srinagar provides a focused environment away from the distractions of more metropolitan areas. This setting allows the coaching staff to instill discipline and concentrate on developing the players’ skills and tactics without external interruptions.

Cultural and Geographical Exposure:
For many young players, this camp offers a unique opportunity to experience a different part of India. Exposure to various cultures and environments is essential for their personal growth and helps build a sense of unity and national pride.

Coaching and Development Under Ishfaq Ahmed
Leadership and Experience:
Ishfaq Ahmed, the head coach, brings a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of Indian football to the camp. His enthusiasm and expertise are pivotal in shaping these young talents. Ahmed’s approach emphasizes not only skill development but also mental toughness and strategic thinking.

Training Regimen:
The training sessions in Srinagar are expected to be intensive, focusing on various aspects of the game, including physical fitness, technical skills, tactical awareness, and teamwork. Ahmed’s philosophy revolves around a holistic development model, ensuring that players are well-rounded both on and off the field.

Building Team Cohesion:
With several players having already played together in the U-16 Championship, Ahmed’s task includes reinforcing existing team dynamics while integrating new players seamlessly. Building a cohesive unit is crucial for success in upcoming tournaments.

The Road Ahead: SAFF U-17 Men’s Championship and Beyond
Group Stage Challenges:
India faces Maldives and Bangladesh in Group A of the SAFF U-17 Men’s Championship. These matches will test the team’s preparation and resilience. Success in the group stage is essential for progressing to the knockout rounds and setting a strong foundation for future competitions.

Long-Term Goals:
Beyond the SAFF Championship, the squad will continue training for the AFC U-17 Asian Cup Qualifiers in October 2024. These qualifiers represent a higher level of competition, providing a platform for the players to showcase their talents on a larger stage and potentially secure spots in future senior national teams.

Impact on Indian Football:
The development and success of the U-17 team have broader implications for Indian football. Strong performances at youth levels can inspire a new generation of players, increase interest and investment in the sport, and contribute to the overall growth of football in the country.

Broader Impact and Future Prospects
Youth Development Programs:
The success of the U-17 camp and subsequent tournaments will likely influence youth development programs across India. Positive results can lead to increased funding and support for grassroots initiatives, providing more opportunities for young talent to emerge.

Scouting and Talent Identification:
Effective scouting and talent identification, as demonstrated by the selection of probables, are crucial for maintaining a steady pipeline of skilled players. Continued investment in scouting networks will ensure that promising players from all regions of India are discovered and nurtured.

Professional Pathways:
For many players, the U-17 national team serves as a stepping stone to professional careers. Performances in international tournaments can attract attention from clubs, both domestic and international, offering pathways to professional contracts and further development.

Cultural Impact:
The camp in Srinagar and the team’s participation in international tournaments can have a significant cultural impact, promoting football as a unifying sport that brings together diverse communities across India. Success on the field can foster national pride and inspire young athletes to pursue their dreams.

The All India Football Federation’s announcement of the U-17 national camp in Srinagar marks a pivotal moment in the development of young football talent in India. With a talented squad, strategic training location, and experienced coaching staff, the team is well-prepared for the challenges ahead in the SAFF U-17 Men’s Championship and the AFC U-17 Asian Cup Qualifiers.

This initiative reflects the AIFF’s commitment to nurturing future stars and underscores the potential of Indian football on the international stage. As these young players prepare to represent their country, they carry with them the hopes and aspirations of a nation eager to make its mark in the world of football

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