exclusive interview to TOI, the 61-year-old techno-savvy Goan, asserted that Indian football is in for good times and wished his successor success. Excerpts from the interview:
How will you assess your eight-year tenure as AIFF secretary?
I feel on a scale of 10 I have achieved 6.5. Indian football has gained recognition from FIFA and AFC. We have got more grants from these bodies during these years.
Has Indian football suffered form negative publicity in the past decade?
I'm afraid, Indian football has always been painted in negative shades. I accept there were shortcomings. Like, the women's team falling outside the ranking system because of inactivity. I accept it was a big mistake. But then, Indian football should not be crucified for this. We have been able to make progress.
Will you call yourself the most high-profile among all the past AIFF secretaries?
It is difficult to say. Like many of my predecessors, I am not that media savvy. Yet, I could make the secretary's office a coveted one. It happened automatically... I didn't approach the media for any kind of publicity. If you ask me, the late Khalifa Ziauddin was by far the most intelligent and diligent among all the AIFF secretaries so far.
What was your experience working with two AIFF presidents who are also Union ministers?
I must tell you that I am the only secretary who didn't have any differences with the presidents (Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi and Praful Patel). In the past, K N Mour (former AIFF secretary) was a power centre in himself and was in conflict with Mr Dasmunsi. Before that, P P Laksmanan had differences with the president. Confusion between individuals can be acceptable but not when you are working inside an organisation. Mr Dasmunshi reposed faith in me. Likewise, Mr Patel is also an astute administrator and a great observer.
Are you happy with media's role during your tenure?
Yes. We got excellent support from the media. At times there were criticisms, which I think was OK. But on certain occasions, some media reports carried quotes from 'sources' which I found baffling. Recently, some mediapersons resorted to personal attack on me at the insistence of some members. That was quite frustrating.
Why there has been so much controversy on the appointment of new secretary?
Your name has been dragged into the controversy regarding the appointment of your successor... Honestly, I am hurt. Anybody can put in his candidature but only the best will be selected. I know some members are against me. I fail to understand why. If they had anything against me, they could have said in any of our official meetings. Why are they playing such politics now when I have already resigned from the federation?
Would you be happy if AIFF gets a young secretary?
It is always refreshing to have young faces who can come up with fresh ideas. I would be happy if more young people join the federation.