The Indian Super League legend Iain Hume, in an exclusive chat with Indranil Basu from Sportskeeda, discusses how ISL has helped benefit the young talents coming through in India.
Comparing ISL to other football leagues in the world, he said "I keep getting asked if India would make it to the World Cup, whether they would win the Asia Cup or not. I think that Indian football with ISL is a baby. In terms of football, you look around the world at the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga; they are 100 years old."
He continued, "Those leagues took a long time to establish, and Indian football has been on a competitive stage for the last 10-15 years. It's a baby in terms of infrastructure, in the levels of coaching, they have only started to earn their A License and their pro licenses in the last 6-7 years."
Praising the work put in by Reliance and ISL, Hume said, "For Reliance to start up everything with ISL, as a football fan, look at where Indian football was 9 years ago, and you tell me the impact the ISL has had. If you ask national team players who played for India 5-10 years ago and ask them whether they would be able to compete with the national team players today and if they say yes, they would be lying."
The 2016 ISL winner continued, "You look at the likes of Ashique, Thapa, Sahal, Rowlin, and Sandesh, they are proper footballers. They are just not guys who play football and go back to offices to work their jobs when the league finishes."
"The young kids coming through, the actual footballing brain they have, the physique, the athleticism, the natural ability, I think that comes from the investment from the clubs and sponsors. They are starting academies with proper infrastructure and gyms", he added.
"These players are just not making numbers in the ISL anymore. You have foreign players who are technically class, and the gap between the Indian players and the foreigners is slowly closing, and it's a testament to the league. If things keep going like this, India will have a pool of 40-50 players to pick from. Five years ago, they had maybe 18 players who didn't look out of place playing for the national side. It's a massive plus for the country as a whole", Hume concluded.