Football may be the fastest growing sport in the country in terms of rising followers. But it is way behind global standards. The only way to catch up with the rest is to have a domestic league that runs for about 10 months, like most European leagues.
At the discussion on ‘India’s Football Future’ at SporTale, that was the suggestion of the experts after a lively discussion. Shaji Prabhakaran, former head of FIFA South-East Asia, Hrishikesh Shende, Director Football, Adidas India and Shirish Kulkarni, owner of DSK Shivajians Football Club was part of the session.
“We need to follow the Chinese model. They have taken the MLS model and format of a lot of European leagues have been incorporated in,” Prabhakaran said.
Kulkarni was skeptical of merger of the two leagues, ISL and I-League. But he agreed that longer league season would help in taking football to grass-root level.
“We have two leagues and they are split in two three-month period,” he rued. Kulkarni.
With a lot of audience comprising college students, there were pertinent questions on India’s fortunes in the sport. ‘When will India make it to FIFA World Cup?’ was their question.
“It is not happening in next 20-24 years at least. Actually the way Indian football is progressing it looks very much difficult at least in the near future unless there is concerted effort to prepare a team that could take on the world’s best,” Prabhakaran said.
“We are not providing opportunities to our kids. Genetically all humans are same. What you are fed what you are taught is important,” he said referring to Spain producing some of the best footballers in the world.