New Delhi [India]: I-League CEO Sunando Dhar on Friday stressed that “local talents need to be given a chance so that football is developed from the roots”.
“Not only does the club benefit from their (local talents) services in the long run but football, in general, grows as these local players become stars and inculcate a passion towards football,” Dhar said.
Players like Real Kashmir’s Bilal Khan or Chennai City FC’s Gaurav Bora were absolutely unknown names prior to the kick-off of the I-League 2018-19. Bora even went on to score two goals in Chennai City’s win over Minerva Punjab FC to land his team their maiden title, an effort which prompted head coach Derrick Pereira to hand him his maiden U-23 national team call-up.
“Chennai City FC, Real Kashmir and Minerva Punjab FC have all given rise to local talent and they are reaping the benefits. Teams need to take responsibility of developing talents in their own region and promoting football,” he said.
Moreover, the I-League CEO said the “club licensing criteria prompted the clubs to invest in grassroots and develop talent in their own region” after the recently concluded tournament facilitating the emergence of local talents.
“The All India Football Federation (AIFF) had introduced club licensing in 2012 were one of the main focus was on to develop homegrown talent. The club licensing programme has been one of the best things to have happened to Indian football. It’s done wonders by professionalising the setup in a unique way,” Dhar said.
“We’ve introduced the homegrown rule for the same reason in the Hero Youth Leagues as it would drastically increase the talent pool available. We’ve touched 15 states through the leagues that are running, be it even the Youth Leagues, now the next objective is to touch each and every state,” he said.