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Indian football to have four-tier league system, says Tetea Hmar

Published at :October 1, 2022 at 9:16 PM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : AIFF Media)

Joseph Biswas

The AIFF League Committee Chairman also spoke about the decision to bar foreigners in the lower divisions.

Mizoram Football Association secretary, Mr. Lalnghinglova 'Tetea' Hmar, is known in the Indian football fraternity as a man with a vision. In 2012, he played a key role in starting the Mizoram Premier League, now regarded as one of the success stories of Indian football.

Hmar, who is better known as Tete among his friends, is a member of the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) Executive Committee and is also the Chairman of the League Committee. Recently, he presided over a lengthy and brainstorming meeting of the League Committee. Hmar speaks about the aim and ambitions of his committee and the AIFF in general to take Indian football forward together.

The 44-year-old revealed that the target is to build a pyramid-like structure of Indian club football that will start from the state level and go up to the Indian Super League, the premier league of the country.

“The plan is to have a kind of a proper structure in which, we should know where exactly we are at the moment, and where we are going to reach the next season, and what are the kind of goals we can set for the future,” Hmar said.

Explaining his plan, the League Committee Chairman said: “This season we can’t do much because we are running out of time and it’s a bit late to bring immediate change in the structure. But going forward, the plan is to have a four-tier system in Indian club football, where we have the ISL as the top then the I-League is the second tier.

"The third tier will be the now existing Second Division. And then comes the fourth phase, which of course, will be the State Leagues across the country.

"All these be connected, the ones doing well in the state, will have a chance to gain kind of a promotion to the top tier. There should be no confusion about which teams will play in which league and what will happen to them if they go down. Everyone in Indian football will have a clear idea about it,” Hmar said.

The League Committee chairman said that the decision to not allow foreign footballers play in the Second Division League was a conscious one on the part of his committee. “There is a paucity of good Indian players in crucial positions. We wanted to bring an end to this trend,” Hmar said.

“And why blame the ISL or I-League only? Even if you go to the major state leagues, you will find foreigners playing as strikers or central defenders. So, the problem is, if we do not provide an opportunity for the Indian players to play, we cannot progress as a footballing nation. So, we will appeal to the state associations also to follow the system of Indian players only,” said the League Committee chairman.