The football pundit affirmed that the development of coaching at grassroot levels will prompt kids to take up football instead of cricket.

Former England defender Russell Osman sounded optimistic regarding the prospective growth of the Indian Super League in the coming years. Recently, the ISL became the first league from South Asia to be inducted into the World Leagues Forum (WLF). The WLF comprises of 42 different leagues that represent approximately 1100 clubs. It was founded in 2016 and the initiation of India’s topmost football league into the same has garnered appreciation from multiple quarters.

Osman is a pundit who has covered the ISL and he spoke to IANS about the same. “When the ISL started in 2014, everybody was hoping it would keep improving every year and the AFC would take notice and start rewarding Indian football for what it is trying to achieve. That has to be backed by the quality of the clubs themselves,” he remarked.

The 61-year-old mentioned that all the clubs have to compete against each other with a professional approach. It is because of the fact that the game needs to appear attractive to the television audience. Moreover, the teams need to build a support base and all these factors coming together and developing simultaneously make the league worth watching.

He continued, “I think all the stakeholders, eight clubs originally and now the ten clubs, they all deserve to give themselves a pat on the back. Mrs Nita Ambani, obviously the chairperson of FSDL, Martin Bain, they are all trying to push the business forward as much as they can.”

The former Leicester City player also commended the dynamics that the ISL shares with the Asian Football Confederation. He believed that appropriate individuals have a say on the scheme of things and thereby observed, “They appear to have worked quite well together. It is an ongoing thing. It is still the ten teams we have in the league and India is a massive country. To be fair, we are just scratching the surface. I believe, year-on-year, we will carry on collecting more supporters.”

There has been a conscious conversation doing the rounds in the past few years about encouraging kids to opt to play football rather than cricket from a very young age. Osman asserted that more organized football will prompt children to take it up right from their school days.

The Englishman added, “The quality of coaching they are getting will always keep improving now because coaches can learn online and the number of coaches have gone up as well. So, they will improve and this will improve the kids as well. It has all the ingredients to make a very good meal.”

The FSDL recently somewhat complied with the demands of adopting the AFC-approved ‘3+1’ formula for foreign players. Starting from the 2021-22 campaign, the sides can field only four overseas players, but recruiting an Asian player has not been made mandatory yet. Nevertheless, it looks like a move in the right direction to ensure more playing time for domestic players.

Russell Osman concurred with the decision and voiced that it will turn out to be beneficial for the national team.  He expressed, “Indian players will also have to step up to the mark. Now, that the foreigner rule has been relaxed, they have to earn their places. Four foreign players in the team can’t carry the team in every game. Majority of them would be Indian players and they will have to raise the standards to a very high level,” Russell Osman concluded.  

For more updates, follow Khel Now on Twitter and join our community on Telegram.