Hyderabad’s talented footballers need more support, say former players

There wasn’t a single football player from Hyderabad in the team that clinched the ISL title on Sunday. Shabbir Ali and Victor Amalraj weigh in on how football can better flourish in the city.

Former international and now TFA secretary G. Palguna (extreme left), ex-footballers Fareed, Shabbir Ali, Aleem Khan and Victor Amalraj at a recent meeting in Hyderabad to initiate efforts to promote football. - V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Success-starved Hyderabad football fans had finally something to cheer about as Hyderabad FC clinched the Hero ISL title in Goa on Sunday. What didn’t miss the attention of the critics is the fact that the winning team doesn’t have even one player from the city.

“Yes, after five decades a team from Hyderabad won a national championship. It is time to build on this momentum as the young talent will look to the authorities concerned for the right kind of support,” said former India captain and Telangana State football coach Shabbir Ali.

“We cannot blame any one individual for this. But, again, the clubs have to make conscious efforts to scout talent, groom them and ensure they get a platform to showcase their skills. Only the Telangana Football Association or the clubs are not responsible. Their job is to get genuine talent picked. But they can’t give jobs,” he said.

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“Any footballer is keen to know the job prospects. The last time a State footballer got a job was in 2008 and except Central Excise no recruitment was done in the last four years. Neither the TFA nor the Clubs give jobs. Yes, they have to see quality players are there in their teams. So, the onus is on the corporates and the State government to at least ensure job security for the young performing footballers,” Shabbir said.

‘Sorry state of affairs’

According to former India football captain Victor Amalraj, ex-national and international players were ready to chip in to revive the sport's image. “This is the right time, thanks to HFC's great win in ISL, to initiative sincere efforts and sustain the momentum,” he said.

For his part, Telangana Football Association Secretary Palguna felt the HFC triumph was a huge morale booster and the TFA was doing its best to keep the sport alive. “Pandemic has hit us badly but now we are organising quite a few leagues and women’s tournaments too. But, again, look at the sorry state of affairs. For instance, Sowmya of Nizamabad, who is now a senior India player, was promised ₹5 lakhs incentive by the State government seven years ago but has yet to get it. The message has to be loud and clear that at least deserving footballers get their due,” he said.

“Worse, we are struggling even to get grounds to host the TFA Leagues. The top officials should take the initiative to do something to capitalise on the huge success story of HFC,” he said.

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