Football is a sleeping giant in Indian sports. I had said in 2004 where I saw football emerge as a game of the future, what was missing was a systematic way forward. The young players in India know almost all about the leading international players and their achievements as if they were sports analysts themselves. The intensity with which our young footballers watch all leagues on TV gives me hope for a better future of football in India. In fact, such is the fan following of the game that all youngsters sleep in  the day to watch matches all night- an act otherwise they will never do.

In the flow of leagues gathering momentum we saw Indian Super League being launched with a lot of hungama. The football fraternity of India both past and present were excited and looking forward to the “Football Gods” playing on Indian soil, but unfortunately the big names were missing in the draft list– all players who have past their peak have come to play the ISL.

The organisers of the league did not take the challenge well and they walked an easy path, let’s compare it to other leagues like say the  IPTL-  where we have all top players in world are playing; the IPL- has all the heart throbs playing; IBL- has the best participating and PWL- which had best wrestlers competing then why is the ISL an expiry medicine for Indian football !!! .

I am sure the idea to organize the league was to take Indian football to a different league but unfortunately the quality of players brought was much below par. The football education in our country is unimaginable, in fact if we run few international quiz on the game lots of prizes will come our way.

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The league was expected to showcase the highest level of game and encourage the young football generation to become like one of them. The other point was interaction of our players with the superstar’s for allowing them to learn the nuances of the game, but nothing of this sort ever happened.

I think the league was launched under pressure or for competition with other leagues. The organizers should have picked up the best icon players even if the launch would have waited for a while. Today the kind of interest we see in our youngsters for watching the international leagues on channels is totally missing for our own ISL.

I wish we can still change our path and get the best of current players to participate in the ISL– get football the place it has among our youngsters, the revenues will change drastically. As a game football has the largest fan following in the world and the idea of organizing  ISl is to do the same in India. I can see the hungry Indian football fans rushing to the stadia with hope of watching a game close to what they witness in Premier League or La Liga but they are disappointed.

The time is ripe for the Indian football organizers to cash in on the madness of Indian fans and create a hero like Ronaldo  or Messy out of this league. That will be the day when India will be playing the World Cup.  

The columnist is a sports guru


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