Monday, July 6, 2009

Sustainability and I-League (Football)

I could not agree less with Henry Menezes (

During 2006-2008, when the AFC Pro-League committee conducted their assessment of the various National leagues, India was ranked at No. 13 on the basis of the football competitiveness, professionalism, marketability, and financial status of the league and its clubs, etc. The committee also highlighted areas of concern and gaps that need to be rectified. The assessment ranking will be updated every two years, i.e., the next evaluation will be in 2010. Wonder what progress the I-League (read AIFF) management has done in enhancing the ranking. Countries ranked below us are eager to make the big league and definitely working on it!!

The clubs and the federation has a long way to go in terms of professionalism....starting with having a professional management at both league and club level. The management team running the league and the respective clubs need to dwell further into the sustainability of the sport in India. But then its a chicken and egg story here!! - what comes first - sponsorship or quality? It needs to be simultaneous. If major sponsors need to be brought in...there needs to be a strong business plan...a palatable commercial package for sponsors to be enticed.

We keep boasting about the $70 million for 10 years deal with Zee Sports/TEN Sports for television coverage. Is that a fair deal considering I-League is a 8 month long schedule? Without underestimating the revenue spinning potential of IPL (Indian Premier League), SONY pays around $1.8 billion for ten years for broadcasting rights. Can't football in India provide enough value to get a package that is worth at least 20% of what IPL gets?

Now imagine passing on part of the revenue earned from sponsorship and broadcasting rights to the clubs involved just like any other league in the world. With money being flushed in to the clubs, the value add they provide would also go up considerably resulting in better deals from sponsors and broadcasters.

In Enland, the English Cricket Board contracts about 25 players every year. But these players also turn out for their county teams just like any other professional player on the county team. Now can't the AIFF implement a similar system whereby, everybody gains - the country, federation, clubs and the players.

I-League needs a professional management team with fresh ideas (not just from the football world...but any sports or any industry that can be implemented and can work!) and a strong management background...a CEO to start with. By the way, what is management? I checked up the dictionary: Management comprises planning, organizing, staffing, leading or directing, and controlling an organization (a group of one or more people or entities) or effort for the purpose of accomplishing a goal...Blah Blah Blah!

Well well well...end of the is all about sustainability.

Inspiration from North Korea (football)

I completely agree with Baichung Bhutia that the Indian team should draw inspiration from the North Korea team that qualified to the 2010 World Cup (

The North Korean team qualified for the next World Cup to be held in South Africa after a gap of 44 years. They qualified ahead of Asian powerhouses like Iran and the UAE. Back in 1966, North Korea had a fairy tale run at the World Cup and became the first Asian nation to cross the first round hurdle. They reached the quaterfinals (after beating Italy in the previous round) and were leading 3-0 against Portugal before the Eusebio magic swept them aside. Eusebio scored 4 goals in that match and Potugal won 5-3.

North Korea were the only Asian country to reach the quarterfinals of a World Cup only to be bettered by their souther compatriots in 2002 (ironically) . For those of us who are interested, there is a documentary film by Daniel Gordon based on seven surviving members of the 1966 World Cup team called "The Game of their Lives". Unfortunately, it was released in October 2002 after South Korea had eclipsed the feat acheived by North Korea. Nevertheless, it is still worth watching!!!

It is quite interesting to note that the same North Korean team that has qualified for the 2010 World Cup also played in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup (incidently won by the Indian national team). Now add that to everything Baichung said...2018 may not be a distant dream!!!

Surprised with David Booth's comments (football)

I'm quite surprised at David Booth's comments (

Wonder why he fails to see the composition of the Indian team beyond 2011? Does he know the average age of the national team? Does he know that only seven out of the 27 probables will be over 30? - which means Bob has built a team for beyond 2011.

Moreover, all the players who are not part of the current camp but have been called up by Bob for various national camps in the past 18 months or so will still only be 25-29 by 2012!!! Also, look at the advantages of having your core team play together for so many years. Now Bob or any coach would not deny great prospects from turning up in national colours.

What more can be expected from the national team coach? – choose a team of 19 or 20 year olds?? We need to groom the youngsters through various age-groups, give them international exposure, make them part of national camps, give more first team appearances at club level, and organize more age-group tournaments, etc… Also is it the responsibility of the national team coach to groom youngsters for the future? If so, then what are the I-League “professional” clubs, AIFF and the state associations doing to groom youngsters?

Before we sit down and analyze the national team…what has David done for the youngsters? Now do you groom the youngsters directly at international level or league level? It is a known fact that most of the youngsters at Mumbai FC were busy warming the bench day in-day out!!! Also, if David was so concerned about Indian football, why was Abhishek Yadav (current Indian team striker) and Sampath Kumar (a future Indian team striker) missing from the team sheet most of the times??

The new team David’s coaching (Mahindra United)now has four or five promising strikers, viz., Sushil Kumar (7 goals last season), Rafi, Thoi Singh, Surajit and Varin. David has signed the less effective Subair Ali (formerly Chirag United – 4 goals last season) – what does this imply? What is the message conveyed to the youngsters? We would love to see the likes of Sushil and Rafi in Mahindra and hopefully Indian colours.

Wonder why David took a dig at Bob! I heard Bob say something about coaches in the I-League favoring foreign strikers and not giving opportunities to Indian strikers like Abhishek Yadav (*hint hint*)

It is true that clubs are not generating significant revenue that they can boast about from spectators. How many clubs have a proper website? How many clubs have proper fan club, community, merchandising programs? While money is an important aspect, is that the only factor? Mumbai FC is backed by a multi-million dollar company (Essel Group) and so are most of the clubs!

Another reason for low spectator turnout in many cases is due to the lack of community involvement or the absence of popular local players. Last season, Mumbai FC (for example) had most of their stars coming from outside Mumbai and even Maharashtra - only 7 or 8 out of 30 were from the state!

By the way, talking about youngsters reminds me…at the Subroto Cup (for u-17) in 2003, a school team from Car Nicobar was runners-up. The players from that team will be 21-23 years old now. Wonder how many of them are plying their trade in professional teams…!

Need to be heard!!!

Hello friends,

I have started this blog since I wanted to share my thoughts and opinions on various topics.

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Jason Morais