This is Why, Indian Super League is Just a Camouflage

Indian Super League is again knocking on the door, and players are joining their respective teams in order to get prepared for the youngest Football Bash in India. Well, marketing managers are at their jobs and media managers are back on with “Lets Football” and the ISL festival is ready with all the hustle and bustle possible to entertain the football crazy Indians. AIFF now, has assigned a committee to implement the ISL merged with I-League. So, a happy atmosphere is all over the sports channels and newspapers. But deep inside there still remains a question, in some of Indian football lover’s heart, which is: Where is ISL leading us to?

Indian Super League and its Glory

Well, ISL got introduced to us, last year. The teams were selected from different corners of the country. Players were sold to clubs in a proper bidding procedure. The two months tournament had a beautiful ending with Atletico de Kolkata and Kerala Blasters meeting in the final and ATK winning the first ISL. Different international media covered the event and promoted the tournament thoroughly. Bollywood stars had also taken a huge part in buying clubs or being brand Ambassadors which eventually led a lot of heat towards the mass all over the country. The festival reached its finishing whistle with the closing ceremony. People had got hooked, attached and obsessed throughout the tournaments and cheered their heartout for their own teams.

Indian Super League getting attached to I-League, i.e. mainstream Indian Football

Well, lately the AIFF general Secretary Kushal Das has promised that the Indian Super League and I-League will get merged soon in the future two or three years. The assigned committee is on the project and it’s just a matter of time before it happens. In Mohun Bagan’s 125 years celebration at Netaji Indoor Stadium this is what he had quoted

“We will have only one league in the next two to three years, but how to merge these two together is being planned out. Its been long that there’s been no change in football here, it needs a shake up, we have roadmap and even all stakeholders have the same view of having just one league.”

Now, the expectation would be to incorporate the greater sources of money and other investments to enhance the quality of domestic football of the country. But, some are actually raising a question here doubting a much horrifying end up to the procedure.

Why do not we remove our eyes and ears from these high peach melodramas for a moment and actually take a good look on the situation, trying to focus on what worries these football lovers if the future of Indian football is handed over to such corporate minds and how ISL for that matter, is going to make the meanest impact on it?

How ISL is becoming harmful to the future of Indian football?

The dark side of ISL

Well there are a lot of discussions to be taken care of in such regard. With ISL probably moving in with I-League it’s time to have a detailed analysis of the situation.

ISL hits upon Bollywood stars and famous old legends

Well, till date most of the teams have been known for Avishekh Bachchan’s team or Del Piero’s team or Zico’s team. The team’s main attractions are the owners or the age-old famous Marquee players who can’t even afford to stay on pitch for 90 minutes or some legendary coaches. Now this is actually a great marketing strategy to make an appeal to the mass. People gather around to have a look at John Abraham cheering for his team with other Bollywood stars or Materazzi struggling 70 minutes on pitch with some damn good Italian skills. Under this high volume marketing genius, the young talents actually struggle to make 90 minutes presence in the field. The players who are playing are generally the common known stars of Indian Football along with some brilliant foreigners and some age old crowd pullers. Setting aside the fact those young talents are no where going to make a mark here.

Domestic Players Earn and Learn but…

If we have a close look on the end of the season awards from last year, we would get a beautiful statistics here. Canadian Ian Hume was awarded the Hero of the league; Brazilian Elano got the golden boot. Luis Garcia from Spain got the most exciting players award, Cech star Jan Seda got golden gloves and Kostas Katsouranis from Greece got the goal of the season award. Only one Indian player actually managed to get an obvious appreciation i.e. the best emerging player’s award which was given to Sandesh Jhingan.

However, rather than Sandesh, Balwant Singh, Robert, Sushanth Mathew Jeje, Subhashish Roychowdhury had a good run in ISL 2014. But after that, these players have not met any success in the whole year. We have seen Balwant and Jeje struggling hard to get a goal in I-League. Subhashish failed to even get an I-League team. Infact Balwant and Subhashish did not even make it to the national team of India. Sushant Mathew, Mohammed Rafique, Antoni Perreira, Lenny Rodriguez all got lost in the mass of mediocre football all around in I-League and the failure of Indian National team’s. So, the question rises how ISL actually going to provide any good in future?

Marca, Gurdian, Daily Mail covers ISL, presents it to world…

Yes, I agree it is good. The around the world exposure obviously would bring money and investors to ISL clubs and would make a great show- business. But after the two months show when the players would return to their mother clubs to perform in I-League or would struggle against Guam or Oman, with national jersey on their body, who is to cover that poverty up? The question rising here, is if we are leading our players to a safe two moths tournament to have their best carrier shots or even a chance in international clubs from out of country? If so, then how will it help our country to rise in the sports at international level?

Anyways let us now have a short look over, what happens if AIFF succeeds to merge ISL with I-League. In response to AIFF’s meeting Confederation of African Football (CAF) general secretary Hicham El Amrani has openly suggested that the two leagues should be taken under one roof in order to supply fan support to corporate teams. But…….

Grass root work to fetch out domestic talents

It is no secret that to improve a quality bar of any country in any particular sector, the obvious way out is to reorganise and rebuilt the infrastructure and the system in fruitful way. In all the 1st row European or Asian football playing countries they first set-up a proper youth building programs to fetch talents from grass-root. Coaching and nurturing these future stars strengthens the future. A proper build-up from the very young age is very necessary. Be it a youth academy or a football school. But the corporate have already shown us, they don’t have much to worry about in building proper academies in India and guide them thoroughly. None of the companies till date has shown any interest in this regard, be it a ISL corporate team or some I-League corporate team. However, last year North East United started such camp, but the ratio of the academy building to the crowed pulling gimmicks clearly delivers the proper urge of these corporate world.

Traditional fan base will never merge up with corporate marketer

Well, the traditional fan-based clubs in India are not there in great numbers. Without West Bengal, North East and Goa it’s hard to find much fan based clubs in the country. Yes, Bengaluru FC is dragging supporters these days, but it’s a very young neighbourhood. This could be good for ISL teams to bank in the local football lovers as supporters but history has already washed the concept away.

In some cases the corporate teams have shut-down their football teams. Mahindra United had a base in Delhi; JCT had a base in Punjab. But with companies tearing down their football teams at any point its unlikely to bank much domestic supporters.

The opposite scenario came up very recently when Kalyani Bharat FC and Pune FC proposed to tear down their football team due to lack of supporters. Now Pune FC is playing the I-League for quite some time, but is still suffers supporter lack. So, there is a very less chance that local supporters would ever be attached to such corporate teams, even if they do, the chances of shutting down would always be there on the profit and loss statement of the concerned corporate industry. If a company or some industrialist ever meets upon acute loss in market, what would be the way to keep the team alive?

Final Words

From last ISL, we have witnessed our national team losing to Guam and Oman. We have seen Dempo FC to get relegated from I-League. We have seen India’s football rank to suffer drastically, ISL stars to get fade fast and Dempo, Chrchill Brothers players to suffer a season without any team to play for. Kalyani Bharat FC and Pune FC are also in verge of shutting down. The future of football in our country is struggling hard. It’s high time to raise the question; whether these hustle and bustle of corporate world will do any good to our nation’s football? Is this at all the solution, to let corporate companies take up our football teams? Or, Valanka Alemao Churchill was right quoting

“India is hosting FIFA U-17 World Cup. We should have been talking about building a team rather than having such a league. India should have a 10-year vision to qualify for the World Cup. A country like Japan has proved that one can qualify for the World Cup with proper vision,”