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ISL is here to stay and improve Indian football

Prayank
ANALYST
Modified 26 Dec 2014, 10:13 IST
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Atletico de Kolkata are surely the first in a long list of champions

A joint venture of IMG-Reliance and sponsored by the largest motorcycle manufacturer of the world – Hero, Indian Super League has a great potential to uplift the sport of football in India. Prior to this, I-league was the only professional competitive football league in India, which was not as popular as the ISL has turned out to be. The marketing techniques carried out by ISL have proved to be quite effective as the turnout on match-days has been in tens of thousands.

ISL and its teams have little chance of facing a financial crisis, which has been haunting I-league for quite some time.  End of the first decade of this century saw the fall of United Mahindra, which was said to be on the brink of a shutdown. Reportedly, the expenditure of clubs in I-league was far higher than their potential prize money from all domestic tournaments. Add to this the deficit in sponsorship caused by disinterested citizens of the country and you have the perfect recipe for a failing league.

Why ISL is free from financial hassles of I-League

On the contrary, ISL has an array of sponsors and numerous celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar, Ranbir Kapoor, John Abraham and many more backing up their favourite club. Bollywood and cricketers being a big thing, this results in their respective fans following the sport as well and adding massively to the viewership.

Although, often dubbed as a cricket-crazy nation, India has a great potential to adapt to football and improve the state of the sport in the country. Lack of job security, low-income, rare opportunities and negligible government backing has led to football and almost every other sport suffering in India.

But with the introduction of ISL, which also features well-known marquee players from abroad such as Alessandro Del Piero, Robert Pires, Fredrick Ljungberg, Nicolas Anelka, Mikael Silvestre and many more, football has gained prominence at the national level.

ISL can unearth India’s footballing talent

ISL means added opportunities to players, who otherwise would have had to quit the sport to make a living. Many new players emerged in cricket after IPL was launched, the same can be expected for football with ISL up and running. Increased opportunities in the sport means more people flocking in to follow their passion for the sport and moreover, parents letting their kids take up the sport as a profession.

This way, the competition increases and so does the quality of players. This can only result in an improved condition of the national team. The biggest worry that ISL or football faces in India is the lack of infrastructure, investment and grass-root problems such as discouraged youngsters.

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In fact, it’s quite a welcome change to see the BCCI lending a helping hand and cricket stadiums being used as a venue for football matches.

ISL also has a strategic partnership with the Barclays Premier League, one of the most competitive and famous leagues of the sport, which will help improve the league and popularise football in a huge market. The Delhi Dynamos team has been associated with Netherland’s ‘Oraanje’, whose playing style the Delhi team would be following. Another case in point are Atletico de Kolkata, who are backed by Atletico Madrid from the Spanish La Liga.

With such associations, financial backing and a massive following gained by ISL’s slogan – #letsfootball, ISL is here to stay and make its mark in the sporting history of India.

Published 25 Dec 2014, 00:12 IST
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