Ever wondered why is the Indian National Football Team not able to reach even the Group Stage of FIFA World Cups despite India making huge strides in Cricket? Why is India ranked as low as 105 in the FIFA World Rankings while being ranked 1 in ICC Cricket Rankings? Somewhere, we and our Indian Football System are at fault.
Lack of Exposure
The Indian Football System lacks exposure to International levels. How many Indian players do we know who are playing in elite football leagues of Europe?
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who played for the Norweigan club Stabæk in the UEFA Europa League is one such inspiring personality. We need more players, who play for elite clubs in elite leagues so that the Indian youth has something to inspire them. Remember, a player of the stature of Sachin Tendulkar inspired a whole generation to play cricket and we are just one person away from achieving something in football.
Coaching has always been a troubling factor for India. Yes, Stephen Constantine is good and aims at rebuilding the team with the youth, but we need someone like Jurgen Klopp or Sir Alex Ferguson who can churn out some great talent from the youth and make it an ability.
Lack of Attention
Probably the popularity of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo is more than Sunil Chettri and Baichung Bhutia for obvious reasons. Even in the Indian Super League (ISL), Zico, Mendy, Hume etc. were given more attention than Sandesh Jhingan or Robin Singh even though this league was focussed towards Indian players.
ISL is still exposed due to some marquee from Europe but what about India’s own league the Hero I-League? Which two teams play the El-Classico would go answered by many but which two teams play the Indian El-Classico will be answered by few.
Ever heard of La Masia? How they produced great players like Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and many more? They had the advanced infrastructure. An arranged timetable where they had the A’ grade meal balanced with a proper proportion of training and rest.
There are no such grassroot programs and no proper scout systems.
The recent efforts in creating world-class pitches for the FIFA U-17 World Cup is appreciable and shows our capabilities but the question is, can such development in football take place only when we are about to host a major international event? Isn’t it a necessary step for the development of youth football? These questions are simple but need to be taken into account more often.
Lack of Commitment
Many students are there who perform so well at the school level or the college level but quit football just because of parental pressure. The lack of perspective of Indian parents is one of the reasons. People need to understand football as a career option. Not only football but every other sport. A lot of awareness is being created using the school textbooks but we need something outside those textbooks. Look at the salaries of players playing in the elite leagues, they are definitely more than the IIT salaries. So why not change the goal and play football?
Currently, we rank 105th in the FIFA World Rankings which is far decent as compared as compared to what it was 9 years ago. We have become serious about football but we have a lot more work to do. We need our players to go out and play in top European leagues. We need better coaches, infrastructure and awareness. ISL is a great initiative and it needs to be supported more. We need more focus towards Sunil Chettri than Cristiano Ronaldo. We need someone like Edin Dzeko who inspired his country to the FIFA World Cup 2014. And we need a governing body consisting of footballers and not politicians.