TODAY -

The trend of Indian football : Look forward to Indian Super League (ISL)!

Macnelly Chongloi *

Manipur Santosh Trophy football Team practise at Artificial Turf football ground at RAU ground Khurai :: 16 January 2014
Manipur Santosh Trophy football Team practise at RAU ground Khurai in January 2014 :: Pix - Jinendra Maibam



Love for Football:

When talked about football, it reminds me of the movie of the Football King Pele watched by me and my beloved father that had telecast on the national channel in the early morning of June 17th, 1994 World Cup just before the opening match. Advancing in football that India is also home to a World's 3rd oldest trophy Durand cup which started way back in 1888.

Today I will reveal the secret-love and its movement for football by the Indians. When we talked about the greatest striker of non-violent resistance; M.K. Gandhi, we only thought of his freedom movement and his love for the land and women. The not well known fact is that he was also seduced by the essence of sports especially football. That is why; he established three football clubs in South Africa while fighting against the apartheid regime there.

The clubs were based in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg and were called the Passive Resisters Soccer Club. Though there is no evidence of Mahatma dribbling on the field of play, but you will find pictures of him with the players at Durban's Old Court House Museum. He also realised that sports could also be helpful for his political ends. Due to Kolkata club's playing with barefooted ball wizards and the British institutions with the boots enhance the difference in ideology between the aborigines and the colonialists. This difference in games too-enhance the spirit for their mother country reached its zenith in 1911 over the Kolkata club's success.

Though Kolkata, Kerala and Goa enjoy popular public support; it doesn't turned out to be a successful professionalism as it forbids the leaders or administrators from focussing on their full time and spirit as they were busy fighting for freedom and its political business during the 19th and first-half of the 20th century. India qualifies for the FIFA World Cup in 1950 which was held from June 24th to July 16th at Brazil. Sadly for India; FIFA, the world's football governing body restricted them to compete in the tournament barefooted and therefore obviously India had to forgo with the celebration.

It was the first World Cup since 1938, the planned 1942 & 1946 competitions having been cancelled owing to World War II. India triumph with gold in football in the 1st Asian Games in 1951, beating a booted Iran by a solitary goal. Having the trend of putting boots in 1956, India reached the semi-final in Melbourne Olympics, the 1st Asian country to do so. They stood fourth in the tournament. Again in 1962 India again picked up the football gold in the Asian Games. 1951-1962 is known as the "Golden Phase" of Indian football.

Football revolution started again in 2007 as an I-League under the confederation of AFC. The 1st match was played between Dempo & Salgaocar on 24rd November at Fatorda Stadium in Margao and the league has got 10 competing teams. Dempo were the 1st ever champion in the league for the year 2007-08 while Bengaluru FC is the present champ.

Though the I-League had continued for almost 7 years, it didn't yield any marquee player and its investment were less, so it doesn't attract much for the entertainment (viewer's support) and Tycoons & their companies for investment. The I-League doesn't changed much of the trend as sponsors are hard to find, crowds have deserted the stadiums and there have been times when India's top flight football had no broadcast partners! The 1st intention is to create viewer's support (entertaining) and things will continued to ignite the fire and left no stone unturned, as football is not only of the games but also has a place for the business and its million dollar question!

Introducing the Indian Super League 2014:

Hero Indian Super League was established on 21st Oct. 2013 and it came into being when Reliance Industries & International Management Group (IMG) inked a deal with the All India Football Federation an amount of 700 crore rupees. The ISL will be sponsored for 3 years by the Hero Company. It is promoted by Nita Ambani, Founding Chairperson, Football Sports Development. The league has got eight new franchisee clubs and three-month-long games to play.

The clubs are: -

1) Atletico de Kolkata- It is based on Kolkata and had a Spanish Antonio Lopez as their coach and had a marquee player Luis Garcia of Spain. This is owned by the Kolkata Games & sports Pvt. Ltd including La Liga side Atletico Madrid and Sourav Ganguly (The Bengal's Tiger).

2) Kerala Blaster- It is based on Kochi, Kerala and had a coach as well as a marquee player David James of the EPL. It is owned by Prasad Potluri and Sachin Tendulkar (The Cricket Blaster).

3) Goa FC- It is based on Margao, Goa and had a Brazilian Legend Zico as their coach with Robert Pires as a marquee signing. It is owned by Venugopal Dhoot and the present Cricket star Virat Kohli.

4) NorthEast United FC- It is based on Guwahati, North-Eastern India and had a Kiwi's Ricki Herbert as a coach with Spanish Joan Capdevilla as a marquee player. And it is owned by Shillong Lajong FC and John Abraham.

5) Mumbai City FC- It is based on Mumbai and had an English Coach Peter Reid with Fredrik Ljungberg as mark player. It is owned by Bimal Parekh and Ranbir Kapoor.

6) Delhi Dynamos- It is based on the national Capital Delhi and had a Dutch Harm Van Veldhoven as their coach with marquee player Del Piero. It is owned by the DEN TV Networks.

7) Pune City FC- It is based on Pune, Maharastra and had an Italian Franco Colomba as their Head Coach with marquee signing of David Trezeguet of France. It's owned by Wadhawan Group and Hrithik Roshan.

8) Chennaiyin FC- It is based on Chennai, Tamil Nadu and had Marco Materazzi (Italian World Cupper) as their Head Coach with Elano of Brazil as a marquee player. It's owned by Vita Dani and Abhishek Bachchan.

Unlike other league/premiere, the ISL will not go on the paradigm of relegation and promotion. As being obvious, this is done so for the investment and its owner stability. Each ISL team can have 7 foreigners and 14 domestic players. A team owner can directly recruit two foreign players and other five foreign player would be selected from the International drafts.

Contemplating the Success:

With the advent of the J-league in 1993, the status has changed drastically for the Japan to a regular entrant in the quadrennial FIFA World Cup. Football has emerged as the most popular sport there, keeping baseball aside, much like our cricket, has had a fanatical following in Japan. Brazilian legend Zico, who was part of the early soccer revolution in Japan, is now in India, doing his bid for the ISL as the marquee manager of the Goa franchisee.

When asked about ISL to the Gunner's Arsene Wenger, he stated as follows, "If you look at the history of football, it has always become quicker and it looks like it grows everywhere. It's like a virus that multiplies, so I don't imagine that it won't take off, there's only really badminton & cricket in India, but there's always room for another sport. I know that the people there watch the Premiere league & I'm convinced that with such a huge population, it will take off [The Arsenal Magazine]."

"I am very excited. Being an Indian International myself, playing alongside several international stars is going to be a wonderful experience. Imagine playing against someone like Del Piero! And it's not just about playing with them, but also about learning and taking something from them," Indian forward Jeje Lalpekhlua of Chennaiyin FC says.

Our Elders achieved in establishing the 3rd World oldest football tournament, qualifying in the FIFA World Cup, becoming the Asian champs & kicking the Olympic semi-final. Keeping etched with us the spirit our pioneer have and doing the job with hope & gay, we are sure to inculcate the breakthrough of football in this world of games & sports keeping aside our primary works.

Only then, football will become our light which will generate powers, money, business, entertainment and many other where it will be a part & parcel for us like the western nation uphold & worship or have as a religion.

Come on Indians, save our soil & resources with the wizards of football like the Elder do's! I hope we can as we all know football is not an in-borne quality and keeping in mind the Saying of practice makes man perfect; see you my fellow countrymen in the under-17 World Cup in 2017 as there are a message for India likely to host the celebration and a bid for it is going on.

And we can also predict the year 2026 for the FIFA World Cup as a contingent. I predict this year because it is the duration on which one can dream and practice hard for the FIFA World Cup from childhood to a youthful stage right here right now.

Let's football!


* Macnelly Chongloi wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on November 21, 2014.


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