The Indian Super League tournament began with a great start. Launched by IMG Reliance—a joint venture between Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd and IMG, a global sports, fashion and media business—and Rupert Murdoch’s Star India Pvt. Ltd in partnership with the All India Football Federation, it has obtained the support of some big shots ranging from sports stars and celebrities and popular cricket players.
The owners of the team of ISL announced that the tournament could lead to a start of a revolution within Indian Football. India has a history of domestic club football, supported by passionate fan clubs, especially in places like West Bengal, Goa, Punjab, and Kerala. There have also been some pretty good performances by the team in the 1950s and 1960s at an international level.
But India’s ranking has been pretty bad lately. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) ranks India 145th among 207 soccer-playing nations. A feat that is pretty embarrassing for a country that loves football. So in order to rectify this, the ISL is the latest attempt to revolutionize the sport in India.
The ISL is taken after the IPL, a two-month long tournament. IPL is a franchise owned by Bollywood celebrities, adding to its popularity and managing to attract cricketers from around the world. The problem with ISL is the timing. The star backing will find it difficult to attract players from around the world due to the tournament happening in September to November. That’s when the world’s top leagues are seen in action.
The league also needs to make sure that the quality of Indian football, primarily that of youth football is popularized in the country. Something that the I-League has failed to do. It will be a challenge due to the duration of the tournament, but hopefully, they manage to pull it off. ISL must also that the sport is treated on a professional level and the players like Sunil Chhetri and other talented ones are given the best of treatment. The team must be able to earn a pretty good living from the game.
The ISL is definitely a step towards a revolution in football, albeit being a small one. The Indian football team still has a long way to go before they are able to play with the top leagues. Now it is up to the AIFF, the Sports Ministry, the Media, and even us football aficionados, to make sure we bring about the much-needed revolution in Indian Football.