The Football Ecosystem Map of India (2011)


The India Football ecosystem map shows football ecosystem maturity level for each state. East state in India is assigned a “maturity level” grade based on how mature the states football ecosystem is. The “maturity level” is defined in this case primarily as a sum of two attributes: 1. The degree to which football permeates the culture of the population (i.e. the degree the general population actually plays the sports, attends local games etc). 2. The degree to which the state has operating structures for organized competitive soccer i.e. (Professional clubs, youth leagues, academies etc).

One caveat, the map is not based on real statistical data, but rather on the authors opinion which is based on following Indian football to a good extent for some years. However the author lives away from India and hence it is quite possible the ecosystem grade assigned to some states may not reflect the reality. Hence feel free to comment if you disagree. Another caveat, just because a state has “mature” grade does not mean there is no scope of improvement. Obviously, in India every state has lots of scope for improvement, the grades are relative not absolute.

The purpose of the map is to attempt to provide a “global” nation-wide view of the football ecosystem in India and to provoke some discussions on what could be done to improve the ecosystem. The football honchos of India (AIFF etc) should think as to how to improve the color-coded grades overall going forward. Some of the thoughts that come to my mind are given below:

The first thing that strikes me is that large sections of India are graded as “fair” or below and huge sections are even in the “near zero” category. Well if one is a optimistic like me, this “bad news” is actually the “good news” in the sense that it shows that there is a huge potential of football talent in India waiting to be energized and tapped.

Regarding developing a short to mid-term strategy of improving the Indian football ecosystem, perhaps it’s easier to encourage football in areas that are adjacent to regions with already mature football ecosystems. North-India has a moderate size cluster (Punjab-Delhi-Haryana-J&K) with some reasonable ecosystem that can be invested in to make it more vibrant and also widen it geographically. For example with some investment and focus on Haryana, the state can be made to improve to a higher grade level and help achieve this northern cluster a critical mass for long term improvement. Also perhaps AIFF should invest in Himachal Pradesh too to get it included in this sub-cluster.

What does one do about the “Near Zero” graded states? Is it even worthwhile for AIFF to even invest in these states or should they rather focus on improving the ecosystem of “Mature, Fair and Moderate” states? Perhaps the state football federations of big “near zero” states should be broken up into multiple zones by AIFF to encourage some competition among the federations and also make things more manageable for them.

Off-course the intention is not to over simplify the issues each state faces. Some states has good structures for organized football (e.g. Maharashtra that currently seems to have a dynamic state association WIFA ) but the grassroots culture of football is moderate and has some catching up to do to be on par with states such as Goa. In other states such as some in the north-east (e.g. Nagaland) the problem seems to be the reverse. They have a thriving football culture that is yet to be exploited fully by having better structures for organized football. Such states can perhaps be made to improve their grades very quickly if something is done to fix issues developing the structures for organized football.

It would be perhaps be a interesting project to develop separate maps to grade each state along each of the two vectors 1. Grass root culture of football in the state and 2. Maturity of Organized football structures in the state. This may make the picture clearer. Perhaps someone with a intimate knowledge of football in India can do this project.