In a major step to lift the standard of football in the country, the All India Football Federation (AIFF), on Friday, inked a protocol with the Portuguese Football League (LPA) in New Delhi.
With this initiative, India will be able to get active cooperation of the Portuguese for development of the game at grassroots level, avail better coaching and support for infrastructure development to support the national side.
AIFF Secretary General Alberto Colaco and LPA Vice President Ricardo Castanheira signed the deal.
Stating that India have been a great supporter of the European country and its footballers, AIFF President Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi sought more help from the Portuguese football fraternity.
"We will invite you to the next international match in India. Also, I request you to raise your voice for India at the next UEFA League meeting. Tell them about the market we have," Dasmunsi urged the delegation.
Outlining the scheme of things to unfold, Castanheira said the LPA would like the AIFF top brass to visit Portugal to follow up the process which started here.
"We would like AIFF to visit Portugal for the follow-up. There are some areas -- like international coaches, referees, medicine, good technique and academics -- where we have done some major development and can really contribute," Castanheira said.
"We will make all kinds of efforts to develop skills in youngsters. Both the countries share political and historical relations and we want to take it forward," Castanheira said.
The LPA official said these activities would be held in the months of March, June and November next year.
Castanheira said football academies in Portugal rear a lot of talented players and the culture could guide India.
"The running of academies is a very good practice in Portugal. Somebody like Cristiano Ronaldo has come up because of that. They provide very good facilities for training and practice to develop skills in young players. This can serve as a benchmark for India," he said.
Castanheira said under the protocol a prominent Portuguese club comprising some star footballers could come to India to play a few games and popularise the sport.
"A Portuguese club coming to India will be in the second part. But which club will come here is a surprise which you will get to know after the visit of AIFF top brass to Portugal," he said.
Among others, Portugal's Minister Laurentino Dias and LPA's Executive Director Antonio Carlos Ramos were present on the occasion.