In the recent years, Indian football has shown tremendous improvement, not just in terms of its performance but infrastructure as well. The country has been able to make great strides towards the development of the sport in the country and it has been helped immensely by the Indian Super League (ISL) ever since its inception in 2014.
In 2017, India hosted the U-17 FIFA Men’s World Cup which was a great success. In 2021, India is scheduled to stage the U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup. In 2022, the country will host the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 finals. And now, India have also expressed their interest to host the 2027 AFC Asian Cup.
With India taking strides on its way to get recognised on the world stage, former Indian footballers believe it has a lot to do with the ISL and the impact it has made on the sport in the country.
Former midfielder Syed Rahim Nabi believes ISL has helped in creating a stiff competition in the Indian football community at the grassroot level.
“ISL has had a great impact on Indian football. Because of ISL, there is a great competition in the Indian football. Maximum Indian players, who are playing in the national team, are part of some or the other ISL franchise. So, ISL has helped Indian team to make strides and progress,” Nabi told IANS.
According to the 34-year-old, who made 67 appearances for the national team, the future of India football looks very promising, especially that of women’s football. “ISL has also helped in developing the young talent, like the U-17 and U-19. Many of the teenage footballers who are currently playing in the ISL have great potential and I am sure will perform even better than the current national team in the days to come.”
Another former footballer Clifford Miranda, who was a regular in the Indian set-up during Bob Houghton’s coaching tenure, feels ISL has allowed the players to play with more freedom which in turn has improved their performance by leaps and bounds.
“I always have this belief that the development of Indian domestic football can only be caused by performance of the national team. So, in my opinion, the biggest impact ISL has brought is that it has enhanced the performance of the national team,” Miranda, who is a caretaker manager of FC Goa, told IANS.
“It (ISL) has helped the Indian team in a big way because earlier when we used to play, it was a different atmosphere. However, now with the ISL, the national team plays with a lot of freedom and expressiveness.
“And it has all come down from ISL because players play under foreign coaches. And thus by enhancing the performance of the national team, ISL has helped in recognition of Indian football at the world stage,” the 37-year-old, who made 45 appearances of the national team, added.