Chhetri: Santosh Trophy deserves more attention

“The competition is not bad. But we don't watch the matches and it's such a huge, old tournament of ours,” said Sunil Chettri, who previously led Delhi in the Santosh Trophy.

Bengaluru FC skipper Sunil Chhetri, defender Prashanth Kalinga, and Head Coach Albert Roca unveil the logo of the Boost BFC Inter School Soccer Shield, set to begin here on January 23rd.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Despite the absence of big names, the Santosh Trophy is a fine tournament that ought to be marketed better, believes Sunil Chhetri. “The competition is not bad. But we don't watch the matches and it's such a huge, old tournament of ours,” he said here on Tuesday.

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“Once the matches are seen and talked about, the whole environment improves. That's why the federation should give publicity to this tournament. Then everyone will be there -- the coaches, the scouts, the clubs. It shouldn't be like 'Santosh Trophy ho raha hain. Bhej do.'”

The Bengaluru FC captain, who has previously led Delhi in the National championship, added: “Before the I-League became the I-League, and there weren't enough top-tier matches for the players and the Santosh Trophy was huge. In that context, the sheen has been lost because the top players do not play in it. But for all those players not in the top-tier, this tournament is a great opportunity to be seen. Because they don't get enough matches.”

Even if players registered with the I-League and ISL were allowed to compete in the Santosh Trophy, it would not be feasible, Chhetri felt. “How many games do you want us to play? With the ISL, the National team, the AFC Cup and then if you add the Federation Cup, that's a lot of games. It's not feasible. But there are so many talented players who don't get enough matches and that's where the Santosh Trophy comes in,” he said.

Chhetri was speaking at an event to announce a partnership between BFC and Boost, which now becomes the club's 'official energy partner'. That association will begin with the third edition of the Boost-BFC Inter-School Soccer Shield, which will feature 60 school teams across the U-10, U-12 and U-14 age groups and will commence here on January 23.

Coaches from participating teams will have the opportunity to complete the AIFF ‘D’ and AFC ‘C’ license courses. There will also be seminars on nutrition and psychology for children and parents by BFC's first-team staff, apart from a referee education programme.

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