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Football Culture in India and its current status

Football in India needs more role models like Sunil Chhetri that kids can look upto and be a symbol of football in the country. In this article, we will discuss about the football culture in India.

Maitrey Dave
Last updated: 06.05.2019
Football Culture in India and its current status | Sports Social Blog

How often have we heard people asking the same question,"When will India play in the FIFA World Cup?" Former Indian Football team Captain Bhaichung Bhutia had a simple answer to this question "I think that will remain so till we have a strong sporting culture,a strong football culture." In India there isn't a strong sporting culture but a strong Cricket Culture.

Sporting culture development starts from a young age.In our country during the past 4 decades the children have been inclined towards cricket because that was the sport which was played in their locality,consumed on the television,ingrained in them from a young age. The 1983 World Cup win was a huge catalyst in establishing a cricket culture in the country.The parents of the children have been the consumer of the sport and had ambitions that their child would represent the nation one day.Parents encouraged the children to take up cricket as a sport.That has not been the case with other sports which has led to a non establishment of a sporting culture.

Some people are of the opinion that India lacks the necessary infrastructure to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. However that argument can be debunked by a tiny nation of Iceland and the success it has achieved in the major tournaments. Most of the African nations are way behind India in terms of Infrastructure but are higher than India in the FIFA rankings. In recent years many multinationals like Reliance IMG have joined hands with the association in establishing infrastructure necessary to develop youngsters from a young age in the beautiful sport.

Recently,while in conversation with Michael Conlan Regional director-Oceania at Hudl I asked him the reason behind the great sporting culture of Australia, he stated that his five year old son plays gold,football and cricket and is always around the world of sport.This simple answer broadened my mind as to what the future holds for India? Australia has developed many Olympic medal winners in individual as well as team sports which is a true testament to their sporting culture. If a youngster is always around a football since his/her tender years and develops skills with the ball at his feet that ought to have a positive impact in his long term development.Most important technical skills are developed till the age of 14 in football which further strengthens the notion that Football culture starts at homes and in the family.

As someone currently living in Mumbai, not to mention an Arsenal fan, I was struck by Arsene Wenger's comments about football in India. "It's a slow process of creating a football culture," said Wenger, also noting that England's league system is 150 years old yet still struggles at times. "I expect India to come to the game and I hope it will happen," added the Frenchman. Having seen the development of Japan's league system up close, Wenger speaks from experience. The development of football culture in the country as stated by Wenger is a slow process which is not going to happen overnight.

While working for a football academy as a coach I have seen that parents are taking interest in the sport gradually due to the popularity of the Premier League and other European leagues. The popularity of the European leagues is due to the broadcasting of matches and end number of discussions on social media.To develop a football culture in India media houses as well as social media have a vital role to play to garner more and more attention to the game and bringing it in the spotlight.

However,All is not doom and gloom in Indian football in present time.The grassroot development programmes by the Association and establishment of Baby Leagues is a step in the right direction. In my opinion the best of coaches must play a positive role in grassroots development and bridge the nexus between the parents and the coaches.

At the end of the day parents are the decision makers for the children and therefore establishing a positive relationship with them is of prime importance.Workshops relating to football,Parent- Children games,More dialogue can be conducted with the parents so as to give them knowledge of the game and make them more aware about the beautiful game.

Football in India needs more role models like Sunil Chhetri that kids can look upto and be a symbol of football in the country. Developing football culture in India is a collective effort involving developing fan culture,Grassroots development,Parent education,Social media campaigns and LOVE OF THE GAME.

I just hope that one day Indian football rises from the tag of a "sleeping giant" of football to holding the World Cup trophy.

To check out more in details about the legacy of Indian Football, Read Domestic Football Tournaments & leagues in India

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