Over the past seven days, HT analysed different aspects of Indian football. We end the series with what some of our readers have to say about the subject.
Spread the NFL
At the outset I would like to express my appreciation for the series of articles published in your newspaper pertaining to Indian football. The problems of Indian football have been correctly pointed out.
The first day’s articles clearly indicated the present status of Indian football. However, I did not agree with the article published on the second day, where you mentioned certain tournaments which used to be held all over the country. My opinion is that with the National Football League being played in two tiers, so many other tournaments are not needed. I would rather prefer the Second Division NFL being held over a broader spectrum. Also, all the states should be directed to prepare at least one club to participate in the Second Division NFL, or their affiliation would be cancelled.
In this particular level of the NFL, more attention should be given to grooming young talent by implementing the rule used in the Goan Leagues which requires at least two under-19 players to participate in a particular match. This I feel is a brilliant idea.
The articles published by you brought out the problems plaguing Indian football, and I hope that you will not hesitate to publish the solutions to them as well.
Thank you HT for this series. It shows that unlike most other media, you think football is an important sport. I think what Indian football lacks is exposure, better marketing and good stadiums. If we get these in place, we will be able to generate interest in the minds of Indians who now follow only European football.
Blame it on us
I would like to make the following points after going through your series. I was an active footballer and even now I play during my leisure hours. I would like to share with HT readers why I think Indian football is in such a sorry state. Having politicians as administrators is one. They lack the vision, the ability and the desire to better things. I also think players from Africa and Latin America have the hunger to play in the major European leagues. They start young with that goal in mind. We in India on the other hand, play for a seat in the university or a job.
A positive attitude
I would like to thank the HT team for this series. The issues covered presented the real facts of Indian football and showed that your team has done good research and interacted with most of the important stakeholders of the game. The series was well timed and certainly presents a positive image of Indian football.
Recent developments and various initiatives in the pipeline are good for the game in India. Corporate interest too is perking up and that, I am optimistic, will spur our big clubs to adopt a professional structure faster. Just as the Indian economy opened up in the 90s to initial scepticism but is now booming, Indian football too will rise. This is a critical phase for the sport here and this phase requires support and the backing from all the stakeholders. If strong foundations are laid in the next five years, India will certainly shine in the international arena in the next 10-15 years.
We Indians are a little impatient and would like to see quick results but in sports we need to cultivate the culture first. No doubt the government has to play an active role in developing a good infrastructure for sports and bringing about a policy change in collaborating sports with schools, so that sports becomes an integral part of education. It would have been nice if the role of coaches and coaches’s education were highlighted in the series.
Dr Shaji Prabhakaran
Director Vision and Incharge National Teams & Youth, AIFF
A word about referees
It would have been appropriate if this series included an article on our referees and the state of refereeing in the game in India.
I started playing football when I was 9. Seeing Wayne Rooney and Kaka, I thought I too would be a football star. But when I talked to others about these things, they told me India has no scope for football. And that, at the earliest, it would take about 15-20 years for India to become a major fooballing country. My dreams died.
The article Cable Football was timely. I can speak for my friends who otherwise swear by cricket but take time out to follow the EPL or the Spanish League. Live telecast of the international football, one fervently hopes, will further the interest of our youth in the sport and hopefully that in turn will compel the government and soccer authorities to build good, attractive stadia and grounds for the clubs, schools and colleges so that young people and students play and enjoy the game.
HT deserves congratulations for bringing the spotlight on football in a unique way.
Gaganjit Singh Jaidka,
I agree with the problems in Indian football highlighted by HT. What hurts most is the quality of the grounds on which our top teams play football. It is good that some corporate houses have come forward to help Indian football.
I just wish there are more. I also want a favour from Hindustan Times: keep publishing articles on Indian football and give it more space.
Our mentality towards sports is still not what it should be. Sports is still not a career option as academics come first for most parents. Many children are discouraged by teachers and parents from taking up sport. Till our conservative mentality does not change, it is unlikely India will a superpower in the sports world. Also, instead of cricket always getting priority, why can’t we have more about our national league on the first page of sports section. The media can play a major role in bringing a particular sport into limelight.
Come on, schools
One of the reasons for Indian football not doing well is that schools do not take sports as a responsibility, rather as a formality. Many inter-school tournaments are poorly organised. Also, many of our academies are not open to any child regardless of ability. Many start recruiting at the age of 11 or thereabout. In the rest of the world, children start playing between the age of 4 and 6.