Talk about Indian Football in the last decade or so and there would be mixed reactions and probably a little naiveness from football fans following the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga and other leagues in India. Indian Football has been known to be the Sleeping Giant in world football with a burden of expectation of a country boosting of a population of 1.4 billion majorly driven by Cricket. Over the past decade, things have changed in Indian Football with the advent of Hero Indian Super League, Hero Super Cup and a more professional approach of clubs participating in the existing leagues like the Hero I League, Durand Cup and similar domestic leagues.
We caught up with international sports commentator Roshan Shetty who marked his television debut on Star Sports a few years back and has called the shots for some of the top tier footballing competitions in the country like the English Premier League & Hero Indian Super League Youth Games (now Next Gen Cup), Hero I League, Reliance Foundation Youth Sports also being one of the youngest in the country to do commentary at the national & international stage. Roshan in a discussion spoke about the growth and future of Indian Football.
“There are some strong teams in Asia like Japan, Qatar, Iran, Korea Republic and even Australia (who compete in AFC) who are a tough nut to crack and have produced fine teams over the years. The long-term goal would be of course to qualify at the FIFA World Cup through merit but before that India should look forward to compete neck to neck regularly with these teams and make it a “New Normal” to make themselves formidable in Asia, this will make way for our qualification eventually, but the key is consistency for the National Team. We have had a great example of this in our valiant draw against the reigning Asian champions Qatar in their own backyard at the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. We need to focus on Grassroot & Infrastructure Development to see Indian football compete strongly at the global stage “.
India ranks 106 in the current FIFA rankings and the road to qualifying for the World Cup still seems a long dream, but there always is a silver lining with some remarkable performances of the national team in the recent past, growing awareness & interest of Indian Football and the attraction of fans to the stadium and TV sets for the national leagues . “It boils down to having a strong Youth development system and apt infrastructure to nurture young talent, and let me assure you our country has some fine raw talent.
We need an early talent identification mechanism, followed by maximum exposure of the talent to professional competitions throughout the year to yield the best possible outcome”, said Roshan Shetty who recently covered the North East Women’s Football League in Manipur. In a major push to bolster Indian Football , India Will Be Hosting the FIFA Under 17 Women’s World Cup 2022 where the Indian U17 Women’s Team will create history becoming the first women’s team from India to participate in a FIFA World Cup.