Football in India: In Need of a Goal

June 29, 2016

Future of International Football in India is turning out to be very bleak. Like one of those sad Indian Football fan I feel that we need to bring in a revolution in promoting football in India.

In Mangaluru I see a lot of football talents playing, at several school/college level or club level, but we are still lagging behind in:

• Exposing children to the latest training methods
• Developing world class players
• Developing a national club team
• Developing good coaches
• Developing world class facilities

We can promote better quality football in here like this:

Currently the Indian football team is ranked 163rd in the FIFA World Ranking. It is really sad to learn we came down from the 94th rank, which we held 20 years ago.

India qualified by default for the 1950 FIFA World Cup finals as a result of the withdrawal of all of their scheduled opponents. But the governing body AIFF decided against going to the World Cup. And this year we lost the World Cup 2018 qualifiers again to Iran and Turkmenistan.

The India national under-19 football team represents India in various under 19 tournaments across the globe.

Not to forget there are several fans club/ training academies across India which are doing brilliant ground level work to bring in grassroots level players. It’s always good nurturing the roots.

The strategy is simple - "CATCH THEM YOUNG" and give them the best, in terms of training with modern techniques, tactics, and physical and psychological conditioning and related inputs.
These players will be the future of Indian Football!

It is good to know that we have several exclusive Football leagues and Football clubs in India like:

• I-League
• I-League 2nd Division
• The Federation Cup
• Indian Super League (ISL)
• State Leagues
• Calcutta Football League
• Youth League (also the I-League U19)

Football is popular in the southern states of Kerala, Goa and Tamil Nadu, as well as in the eastern and northeastern states of West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim and Meghalaya.

Although we have a lot of club teams, club leagues, state leagues, it’s really sad to see that we don’t make it to the International Football World Cup.

Let’s hope the Indian Football team makes it to the World Cup very soon and football in India will rise up in priorities ranking.

Many of us may not be aware, The AIFF has now come up with a vision document for a new master plan - Lakshya: One Vision. One Goal.

It’s a good news that AIFF has already taken key steps towards implementing sections of this Master Plan which will hold us in very good stead in the near future.

What is Lakshya?

Lakshya proposes to develop a National Curriculum to help us to define a typical "Indian Style of Play" without copying any other country.

What does the Lakshya master plan by AIFF propose?

As per the AIFF website, it proposes a new National Talent Identification Plan (NTIP) and a National Youth Development Program (NYDP) which, it is hoped, will form the basis of future results.

"Youth development, undoubtedly, is one of the most important cogs in the wheel simply because it is the future of Indian Football. Unless our efforts can create an Indian National Team of international standards, any achievement will be nothing but superficial. In order to support the youth development initiatives, a strong community of coaches and referees is a necessity. Coaches with the know-how of state-of-the-art coaching methodologies and tactics are an absolute must not just for the professional club teams but also for the grassroots and youth teams so that bright talents are not lost.

"Lakshya proposes to restructure the existing coach development program significantly with a stronger and more effective coach education program based on the latest content and definite targets.

"Referees, on the other hand, are instrumental in providing a competitive environment to the players, which is an integral part of a player’s development during his/her younger days. Referees are also key to making the game more entertaining at the higher level, thus, drawing in more fans and interest into the game. Efforts have been made in this Master Plan to give a right structure and pathway to develop world-class referees in India," states the AIFF.

"National Club Development Plan is more like a set of guidelines which the clubs in India should follow in order to reach competitive standards along the lines of other successful clubs around the world. All Indian clubs should realize the importance of being self-sustainable through a slew of initiatives including but not limited to fan development programs, maximizing ticket sales, exploring alternate revenue streams from stadium infrastructure etc," it adds.

It also shares ideas on how the country’s elite competitions, such as the I-League and the Federation Cup can be improved upon to make them more marketable and interesting.

These changes have been suggested keeping in mind the budgetary and other constraints that we face today. Given India’s FIFA rank of 52 in Women’s football, we have a huge opportunity to do well at the international stage. Hence, a few initiatives to provide the basic infrastructure and technical support to Women’s football in India, the AIFF states.

And then it talks about the various support structures that we should try to provide for our players, clubs and teams to succeed. These support structures include basic infrastructure (such as, a National Football Training and Development Center, stadiums, practice pitches etc.), administrative support, medical support, communications, events etc, besides 'an examination of the social spill-overs of football and a discussion on how post-playing career opportunities can be developed for our footballers'.

The AIFF however clarifies that Lakshya is not a one-stop solution to issues related to Indian Football: "Lakshya is a vision document. This is only the first version of an attempt to give a common direction to football stakeholders in India. Several of the initiatives suggested herein may undergo changes/modifications based on ongoing developments and suggestions. But what is clear is that Indian Football will benefit a lot by taking such an approach in the right direction. In fact, the AIFF has already taken key steps towards implementing sections of this Master Plan which will hold us in very good stead in the near future."


In the near future, let us wish that India qualifies for the World Cup yet again and also let us hope to see a lot of talents coming out from Mangaluru.

On a different note, I feel this was an important topic my friend asked me write on. Thanks Prajwal Rai - A true football fan!

Go ahead Indian Football team, we are with you – because we are the Indian Football fans!



By Mohammed Ashraf
Mohammed Ashraf, a football enthusiast, is a software professional from Mangaluru
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Comment on this article

  • real madrid tröja,

    Sat, Mar 18 2017

    Hello friends, its fantastic paragraph regarding teachingand completely explained, keep it up all the time.|

  • Thanzeel Abu Dhabi, Uppala

    Mon, Feb 20 2017

    Hi Ashraf,

    Well said !!! Great Message about football team in India and need to achieve our target.

  • Abdul jabbar, Mangalore / KSA

    Tue, Jul 05 2016

    Congratulations, a great thought provoking article on football future in India.

  • Dan, Mangalore

    Sun, Jul 03 2016

    Incidentally, this reminds me of an instance:

    In one of the post match reviews of an ongoing major european tournament, whilst talking about the journey of Wales on taking the Footballing world by storm from being 116th in the world to breaking into the top 10, Sunil Chhetri was asked by the show-host "What do you think about the 163rd rankings of the Indian National Team?"

    Sunil, the Indian Captain responds by holding his head down "Let's not talk about it". Sitting alongside him was the former England Goalkeeper David James who smiles and quickly gives Sunil a pat on the back and says "Don't worry mate, you'll surely get there one day".

    Football in India: Indeed in need of a goal

    Hope is the word! Hell yeah, we shall definitely get there someday.

    Wonderful article mate! Keep writing.

  • Joe Britto, Nakre/Bangalore

    Sun, Jul 03 2016

    The period from 1951 to 1964 is considered the golden era in Indian football.

    Under Syed Abdul Rahim India became the best team in Asia. India won the 1951 Asian Games . In 1952, India continued their form by winning the Colombo Quadrangular Cup held in Sri Lanka.

    India then went on to finish second in the 1954 Asian Games held in Manila.At the 1956 Olympic Games they finished fourth, which is regarded as one of finest achievements in Indian football. India first met hosts Australia, winning 4–2 with Neville D'Souza becoming the first Asian to score a hatrick in the Olympics and also making India the first Asian team to reach the Olympic semi-finals. They lost 4–1 to Yugoslavia, and lost the third place play-off match 3–0 to Bulgaria.

    India later participated in the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo where they finished fourth, and the Merdeka Cup 1959 in Malaysia finishing second.

    The downtrend in Indian Football has been continuous since 1960's and it's indeed sad that we are ranked 163 today.

    The sports Ministry should support the game starting from School levels and once again popularize the game .

  • Lorna, thottam /mira road

    Sun, Jul 03 2016

    Very good article, being a football fan I wish our Indian football to get all the support and recognition in the top level like cricket in international games very soon. India has plenty of talent which is lacking proper support and training.

  • Pushparaj Amin, Muscat

    Sat, Jul 02 2016

    Very good article about my favorite Sport. Unless we develop talented players from the grass root level it will change. To facilitate this role of schools and colleges is important.Ministry of Sports has to. draw some Road Map in this subject. Local clubs can also play a key role. In my opinion it is very much possible by joining all these key role players like local club, schools, colleges and Ministry of sports in a single Line. In our Country Lakhs of Kids ready to develop their Football talent, at the same time we will find many sponsors are also ready to help from local to National level. Only We need a TURBO start to make this sport famous as @cricket in India. Hope better time will start soon and India qualify FIFA World Finals very SOON.

  • Hussain, Abudhabi

    Wed, Jun 29 2016

    I think people in India and Asia are too much obsessed with Cricket ...
    Lack of infrastructure , lack of interest in sports, lack of support from politicians Etc are some of the things which lags India behind ...

    In schools we all know how children's play football .. In a rough, sandy, rocky pitches they play football and if they fell over to the ground , they won't be playing again because of wounds ...

    A proper stadium or ground with green grass will attract more players to play this highly liked sport ...

  • geoffrey , hat hill

    Wed, Jun 29 2016

    Unlike cricket, I don't see we Indians meeting the physical and psychological demands the game of football warrants at the highest level, unless we hire hire them from Africa and South America like some of the gulf Nations and some of our clubs do.

  • Zeitgeist, Mangalore

    Wed, Jun 29 2016

    Mohammed Ashraf,

    Being a football fan myself i have thought about how can the football be developed in India. Since india is a big country can not all can be on board with the idea regarding the ways to develop of football. So i will say about the idea for Football in mangalore.

    Setup a league for schools where each schools can take part in the League. The league must last 8 months. holding small tournaments are useless in terms of player development. each participating schools must have 3 teams of different age groups.

    A separate league must be established for amature football made up of two levels. Again here the league must last 8 months.

    Formation of a professional league.
    This league must have two levels,
    so that there can relegation and promotion between them.

    It should be seen that the level of the level one league matches the level of I-league. There can be a even bigger team that takes part in the indian league (its name it FC MANGALORE) . This team could have a pool of players to pick from playing in the level 1 league.

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