I-League: Colaco for Allowing Junior I-League Players in the Local Leagues
Even though AIFF is still in dilemma as to how many matches should an I-League registered player be allowed to play in a season, Armando Colaco, Coach cum Secretary of Dempo SC is of the opinion that allowing the younger players to play the local league won’t be a problem.
“I believe the junior players can play in the local leagues. Seniors such as Climax Lawrence or Sunil Chhetri, do not let them play in the local leagues; but someone like a Gilbert Oliviera or a Joaquim Abranches or Clifton Gonsalves must be allowed as that shall give them more experience and exposure,” said Colaco.
The interim Coach for the National team rightly pointed out that the local leagues would lose its luster and sheen without I-League players. “Who would be interested in the local leagues if some players from the I-League do not play?” asked Colaco.
With AFC making a recommendation that no I-League player be allowed to participate in local leagues, the AIFF action Committee framed a rule which would allow a player to play only 40 matches a season. How and where the player will be fielded is the decision to be taken by the club officials.
Though the decision is yet to be ratified by the AIFF Executive Committee, Goa Football Association (GFA) and Indian Football Association (IFA) – the football association of West Bengal have already made their displeasure public on the suggestion. Goa’s and Calcutta’s local leagues are the best and the toughest in the country and curbing the authority to field their star players for the league would dampen their chances of fighting for the coveted title.
Even a couple of years ago, AIFF failed to prohibit I-League players from participating in the local league after strong opposition from the state associations. The National FA then had to make necessary changes only allowing those players, who played less than 45 minutes in an I-League match, to feature in the subsequent local league game.
Only 40 matches a season is less considering the fact the I-League will take up 26 matches and there after the number of important tournaments a club plays a season is high. Especially the Clubs in Goa and Kolkata will have to play their local league including the Federation Cup, Durand Cup and IFA Shield. No club would like to field a second string team for this competitions as lots of pride and honour are associated with winning these titles. Moreover top clubs will have to play AFC competitions as well.
So Colaco’s suggestion is something that AIFF Executive Committee can look into. Or else the restriction of matches can be increased to 50 as playing 50 matches in 365 days would not be very cumbersome for the players. Another suggestion which can be thought over is restricting the number of matches players included in the National Team can play other than restricting all I-league registered players.