I have been into the sport since my childhood. At the time it wasn’t very popular, I am not sure whether that has changed or not entirely. What I do know is that a movement has begun, for the betterment of the game. Till about ten years back there was no major league for Football. The first big league in India was I- league. It did not make a very good impact in terms of popularity, but at least now people had something to watch. Four years back started the ISL, the thing that helped ISL is that it was introduced by a lot of celebrities. That kind of endorsement helps any sport and it did not take much time for the league to kick off. Now here we are 4 years later and one thing is for sure that Football as a sport has grown in India. So the big question now is can we sustain this, I don’t think at this point in time anybody can surely say whether or not Football will thrive in our country, but one thing I can tell you is that unlike earlier times, there is now at least a platform for the sport to grow.
There are talks of a merger between ISL and I league. A lot of speculations and have been made on the same. I feel that the merger will be good for the sport. It widens the scope by keeping a second league, as done in the English Premier League. When there is a relegation method used, every team works that much harder to stay on top, to compete better and this also gives new teams and new players to make a mark.
The other good thing happening in terms of Football is that this year, India is hosting the under- 17 FIFA World Cup. I think that is a great step towards the promotion of the sport. Does this mean we will win the cup this year? Probably not, we should concentrate on the fact that the amount of exposure and recognition this will give to Indian Football will be tremendous. This will really help taking Football to the next level.
Sports and entertainment are two huge industries in our country, the IPL merged the two and became a major hit, although Cricket was already a major sport in the country, I believe Football too has a lot of scope to grow. There is a change in the mindsets, people are watching football and in numbers, which is a good thing. Any sport or anything for that matter take a while to grow when growing at such a large scale, I think with the kind of leagues we have there is definitely a bright future for Football in India.
Author – Varun Inamdar – MBA Sports Management – Symbiosis School of Sports Science (Pune)
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The whole idea is to grow sports culture where sports are not only about playing but also about those heroes working off field to develop country through sports, bringing change to the society through it and making India a better place for sports lovers.