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indication of the strides Indian Football has taken in recent years.” :- DATO’ WINDSOR:

In an exclusive interview with www.the-aiff.com, Dato’ Windsor spoke at length about the significance of the match in Indian Football context, “providing role models for kids,” setting the “precedent for other Clubs to follow,” and much more. EXCERPTS:

An Indian Club reaching the AFC Cup Final for the first time ever – what does it mean for Asian football in general?

I see Bengaluru FC’s achievement, reaching the AFC Cup final, played on November 5, 2016, in Doha, Qatar, as an indication of the strides Indian Football has taken in recent years. It is also a very positive sign for Asian football. It shows that our joint efforts to develop the game, to bridge the gaps between our inspiring and aspiring clubs and Member Associations, are bearing fruit. Bengaluru has set a precedent for other Clubs to follow in India and elsewhere in Asia. It has become a role model and an inspiration for others to follow.

I would like to add that Asian Football is seeing more and more of these “firsts,” which is a great sign of our improvement. Just a couple of days ago Vietnam reached a FIFA World Cup for the first time, in the U-20 category. Our Clubs and National Teams are reaching new milestones and this is possible only through sustained and joined-up development work, through cooperation between the key stakeholders: Member Associations, Clubs and the AFC.

How much significance do you feel the match holds for Indian Football?

The 2016 AFC Cup final will be a historic occasion for Indian Football, as it will be represented at the AFC Cup final for the first time. Competing for glory at the continental level offers Bengaluru FC and Indian Football, in general, several advantages.

The media attention will help boost grassroots take up by inspiring youngsters to play Football. Providing role models for kids is vital, and it is all the more effective if these role models are from closer to home.

The international visibility is also welcome news financially, as it generates media attention and awareness, which can, in turn, lead to sponsor interest. We will also follow the TV viewership figures on Saturday, November 5, 2016, in India with interest.

What would your message be for Bengaluru FC ahead of the big clash?

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Bengaluru FC for this achievement and of course also Air Force Club from Iraq. The final promises to be a thrilling encounter between the two clubs. I am sure both teams will make their fans and Member Associations proud.

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