ISL needs to do more for Indian players

The Indian Super League polarises opinion. While some support the initiative, others see it as a money-making gimmick, which has not supported grass-roots football development. Former India internationals Raman Vijayan, Carlton Chapman, Renedy Singh and Santosh Kashyap air their views on the ISL.

David Platt during a FC Pune City training session in 2015. “I was the assistant coach at FC Pune City and worked under former England international player and Manchester City coach David Platt. If not for ISL we would have never got that opportunity," former India international Renedy Singh says.   -  Special Arrangement

Ever since its inception in 2014, the Indian Super League (ISL) has divided football aficionados. For some it was the way only way Indian football could improve. For the others it was a just a money-making gimmick which would soon fall flat. Now, as India readies itself for the fourth ISL season, a significant section is at least willing to give it a chance to succeed. There are still naysayers, but most criticism is constructive and can only be for the better. Here are a few of those voices:

READ: Sunil Chhetri ready for ISL 4

Santosh Kashyap, Coach

It is growing every year and it will be good for Indian football. Every move has pros and cons. There has been some impact on I-League clubs. A lot of them are shutting down. Indian coaches are only getting jobs as assistant coaches so there is a clear lack of opportunities for them. I hope it gets better in the future. Also it should be one single league. But the commercials gap between I-League and ISL clubs is so much that it is not happening. It will be great if all things come together. They have to progress together. But overall there is improvement from the first year. Physically, tactically and professionally these players are all better off.

“I hope we can see some improvement in the ISL. When it first started, the Indian players were struggling. Now they are not. But I feel the grass-roots development hasn’t kept pace. We should have done better,” Raman Vijayan says.   -  K. V. Srinivasan

 

Raman Vijayan, former India international

This is the next big step. At the U-17 World Cup, the viewers saw a better quality of football and expectations now will be high. I hope we can see some improvement in the ISL. When it first started, the Indian players were struggling. Now they are not. They have better lifestyles, they look more professional and in general their level has gone up. You can actually see that in the Indian national team’s football too. They are much better. Earlier the only goal was to join an ISL club. Now players are thinking ahead; like using the ISL as a launch pad for going abroad. But I feel the grass-roots development hasn’t kept pace. We should have done better. By doing that, we could have increased the pool of players for the U-17 World Cup. I also feel that only ISL players are getting recognised. Even if you are talented, only if you have a manager’s or a powerful agent’s backing, you stand a chance. There is a lot of untapped talent elsewhere too. Look at Nandha Kumar who played so well for Chennai City FC. Only now has he made it to the ISL and joined Delhi Dynamos.

READ: ISL: Time we saw some gains for Indian football

Carlton Chapman, former India captain

Expectations are very high and everybody is waiting to see how much Indian football has improved. But the Indian team losing all matches at the under-17 World Cup was disappointing. May be if these young players get more chances to play in leagues like ISL, they will get better. But I don’t see any encouraging signs. They said they were committed to youth development but have done nothing. My team [Sudeva Residential Football School age-group side] recently played Delhi Dynamos youth team and beat them 4-2. Who is supposed to be good? An ISL team or a second division league team?

These ISL clubs pour so much money into the senior team. Can’t they do something for the youth teams? There are also too many foreigners playing in the ISL. This is the Indian Super League and we need more Indians featuring and the goal is to make the Indian national team stronger. Not to watch only overseas players play.

“I don’t see any encouraging signs. They said they were committed to youth development but have done nothing. My team [Sudeva Residential Football School age-group side] recently played Delhi Dynamos youth team and beat them 4-2,” Carlton Chapman says.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

 

Renedy Singh, former India International

I was the assistant coach at FC Pune City and worked under former England international player and Manchester City coach David Platt. If not for ISL we would have never got that opportunity. I would say it was the best things to have happened to me and I am sure it would be like that for a lot of people who worked at other clubs. Our Indian players and youngsters are now getting to train under big coaches and it’s a great thing. I played for India for 12 years and the time under Bob Houghton was my best. But imagine our young players getting that kind of exposure so early in their careers. I wish I had that when I was 17 or 18.

ISL has been improving every year. Each year it has set a standard and I don’t think it can’t go down. Yes we can always talk about things which can be better, but I believe that it is moving in the right direction. One thing I want is for Indian players to get more chances to impress. If you see, in the first season, there were a lot of big foreign names. It came down in Season Two and by the end of the third season we saw a lot of young players emerging. I hope this trend continues.

 

I would like to see a single official league for Indian football. There should be promotion and relegation because for those in the second division there should be some motivation factor. But I am sure that these will come in one or two years. Everything takes time. So if you give it that time, it will certainly go higher and higher.

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.

  Dugout videos