How Indian football can plan its road ahead
The growth of Indian football has been magnificent in the past 3-4 years. Currently, India are at 105 in the FIFA World ranking for men. India have qualified for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup to be held in the United Arab Emirates for the first time in eight years. The ISL has put the Indian Football on the world map, no doubt.
It has attracted many stars of the game like Robert Pires, Del Piero, Zico, Roberto Carlos to name a few. The standard of the game in our country has also improved a lot. It has also provided us with some serious talents like Jerry Lalrinzuala, Lallianzuala Chhangte and many others. India have been displaying quality football over the past two years or so.
But they tend to succumb to defeat when facing heavyweights from Asia. With key players like Sunil Chhetri, Eugeneson Lyngdoh well into their thirties, India have to consider the ideal replacements for them. The qualification to the AFC Asian cup 2019 was easy, but the tournament would not be so.
India could face quality teams like Qatar, Australia, UAE, or Iraq. Thus, we have to be at our very best to compete with these teams. Though the recent winning streak is a positive sign, India’s record in the continental tournament is unimpressive.
It is essential to put in some exemplary performances during the 2019 Asian Cup and in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Though there are some really good young players, not many of them can make it big at the end. Where do we actually lag behind our Asian counterparts? Which aspect of the game we really need to work upon?
Grass-root level development
This is something that has to be given more importance. Right from the beautiful valleys of Kashmir to the Thoothoor village of Kanyakumari in the southernmost tip of the country, the Indian youths are brimming with talent and passion for the ‘Beautiful game’. However, they do not have enough exposure and opportunities to exhibit their skills.
For this reason, by organising the grass-root development programs in the U9, U11, U13 and U15 categories, we can easily unearth talents and train them for the senior levels. So, the grass-roots programme covering the length and breadth of the country will surely do wonders.
This aspect is slowing changing. People are getting into the beautiful game more than ever now. But still, the euphoria recognised on the streets of Bengal, Kerala, Goa and the North-Eastern regions during a game is largely missing in many parts of t country.
Football must enter every household and must become a way of life. The rivalries between the clubs should be healthy. People should talk and celebrate football. The joy of the victories and the disappointment of the defeats must be shared with the Blue Tigers just like we do when our cricket team or hockey teams play.
Good infrastructure brings out the best from the players. It is necessary to provide proper training facilities and stadium maintenance. Our players are technically as strong as other players but they lack speed and control. A good infrastructure will also boost the image of our country worldwide.
The fact that ISL obtains huge fan following in spite of India being ranked outside the top 100 is a monumental achievement. Rankings reflect the results. Thus, it is vital that we get better results in the future to attain a good ranking, which will render a world of good for us. For that, proper execution is more important.