Has I-League already lost the plot?
Dempo re-established its supremacy in Indian football. Without a doubt, they are one of the best organised teams in the country. But amid their triumphant run, even their die-hard fans rue the fact that the event which their club won wasn’t properly highlighted.
In one of the post-match discussions on I-league on Ten Sports, the foreign hosts made fun of the standard of the game in India. Now that the league telecast isn’t restricted to the Indian channels, the standard of the leaugue is now being exposed to the world through international TV channels.
Besides the club fans, even the media are not taking I-League seriously. For them, it has become an absolute waste of time. Hence, it won’t be a surprise to see just a small mention of I-League matches in some of the national dailies which once has been a big boost to its growth. Actually, it has been observed since last five years, India’s premier league has lost touch with the masses after an impressive begining in 1996.
After having covered NFL and witnessed the much fanfare in 1996 and later years, I’m sure the I-League is being run on a track which leads Indian football nowhere.
During my recent trip to Calcutta last month, I observed how the city, which was once known for its intense love for football, is also fed up with I-League. The fans are now hooked to a more popular and entertaining IPL. In the evenings, youth will assemble at their paras (lanes) and will root for their IPL team. Walls are painted with IPL fixtures and cricketers. Football is nowhere visible until you walk down to the Mohun Bagan or East Bengal ground. IPL is the new mantra of entertainment for Calcutta’s youth.
Well, we can’t blame their allegiance to cricket. If an event has to succeed and attract its fans, the packaging and presentation has to be truly world class, which the I-League has completely failed.
Even after the introduction of IPL in 2008, the federation and its partners haven’t learned the best ways to promote I-League. Sponsors aren’t so keen to support and the pathetic scheduling had already hit the league hard.
In such a scenario, good and effective thinking can help the event in a big way. There is still lot of scope and the league can still be re-planned and organised in a much better and professional way.
There is an absence of basic promotions. An outsider wouldn’t know who is playing whom on that day. The organisers have simply failed to cash in on the youth. Colleges can be encouraged to take active role in the I-League’s promotion. Or for that matter, city-wise promotions are an ideal way to highlight the event.