India’s veteran Sunil Chhetri feels the Indian Super League has played a key role in helping Indian football take giant strides at the top level. Chhetri said that ISL has taken football to every nook and corner of the country. ISL was introduced back in 2014 and since then it has helped players rise through the ranks.
The young Indian players have had the opportunity to rub shoulders with some impressive foreign players. Furthermore, foreign coaches have played an instrumental role in getting the best out of the players. Thus, players have grown in confidence and the level of competition is rising with every season.
Chhetri reckons the tournament has given interest, hope, and visibility to young players across the country.
“I think a lot of things went well in the last 10 years for us, but the biggest is probably the ISL. What it did was, it got the game to every nook and corner of the country. So when you give a kid that hope (that he can play there), it is different, and that is the biggest thing that ISL has given. Interest, hope, and visibility throughout the country,” Chhetri said in an interview with CurlyTales.
Chhetri, who has all the experience under his belt, added it is crucial for the academies to spot young talent and give them the right opportunities to grow.
“The early we can identify the talent, him or her, and give them the right infrastructure, the right schooling, the right education to be a better player, I think we are good,” he shared.
The Indian captain added their aim is to get the fans and youngsters’ interest in the game, which will help them a great deal.
“You only have two hours to spend on the TV, you want to watch the IPL because it’s the best league, and the best players in the world play here. Same way, if you have two hours to watch football it is not very common for everyone to neglect the Premier League, or the Bundesliga, or the Champions League, where they can watch Messi and Ronaldo, and watch domestic football, and I don’t blame them. Our work as footballers, in India, is to get those fans slowly, this side (towards Indian football),” he said.
He added, “Football as a sport is the most popular sport in any country, it’s the best sport, you love it, you enjoy watching it, but to bring our fans into domestic football is the task and it will happen slowly. It has changed drastically in the last 10 years, it’ll take time, it’ll happen.”