This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Rashi Kakkar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

If Not Indian Super League, What Is The Answer To India’s Dying Culture Of Football?

More from Rashi Kakkar

By Rashi Kakkar for Youth Ki Awaaz:

The giant was sleeping. It had been sleeping for some time now. A large number of people around it had given up hope. They were convinced that it was dead. ‘It will not get up again, let alone rise.’ They had left it to rot. As a few stood and watched, others taking advantage of the sleeping giant started taking away its belongings. Profiting from the giant in its state of quasi death. The fact that you could still make some money off this giant was enough to distract most from the real issue the giant was dying and unless urgently given aid it would never recover.

Image source: Twitter
Image source: Twitter

This is the state of Indian Football today. Each minute it is progressing fast towards its impending death. 0 out of 5. That is the number of games the Indian Football team has managed to win in its 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.

For those not in the know, India did qualify for the 1950 FIFA World Cup finals, it is separate story that due to a lack of funds we could not send a team to Brazil to play the matches. In fact the period from 1951 to 1962 is often considered the golden era in Indian football. The Indian team won the 1951 Asian Games, finished fourth in the 1956 Olympic Games and went on to win the 1962 Asian Games. India was not just good at playing the game but also good at strategizing. India was the first team to field a 3-5-2 formation, a formation that was very successfully used by Brazil in the 1958 World Cup.

From the 1960’s, other Football playing nations charged forward through a focus on infrastructure and player and league development. Indian Football was left behind.

At the end of the day the health of any sport is equivalent to the health of the nation team. In the 1970s our team’s performance started deteriorating and it has continued on a downward slope since. Till this basic fact changes nothing can pull Indian football out of the quicksand it finds itself in” laments Debayan Sen, a multi-sport commentator & presenter for radio & TV.

Let us not let a shiny league (ISL) created with foreign stars (mostly retired) distract us. A two-month Football extravaganza is not enough to change the fate of Indian football.

Modelled on the Indian Premier League (T20 Cricket), The Indian Super League (ISL) featuring 8 teams was founded in 2013 by IMG Reliance with its inaugural season starting on 12 October 2014. The excitement around the ISL is more due to the celebrity owners such as Sachin, Sourav, John Abraham and retired international footballers such as Del Piero, Nicolas Anelka rather than due to the Football on display. Somehow Football is only secondary. The focus is more on which Bollywood or Cricket star attended the game!

Football anchor, Joe Morrison was very vocal in his disappointment with the league and questioned the league’s priority “The biggest League in the world the Barclays Premier League shuts down for International matches yet the ISL has a game the same night as India face Oman. What a farce.Joe Morrison, Football anchor.

Let us not let the 7 day visit of a Football legend (Pele) make us believe that just his sheer presence will inspire an entire generation to take to Football.

Pele’s visit to India is great for nostalgia lovers but will do little to improve our football skills or performance– Sundeep Khanna, Executive Editor at HT Mint, adds.

The ultimate solution has to be bottom up. In India we do have fans of Football but unfortunately hardly any fans of Indian football. All our solutions need to be created to solve this one problem – How do we get our national team to do better?

Until that happens we will be stuck in a state of limbo. A paralysis. Indian Football is sick and it needs to take the hard steps to fight the root cause of its problems. The clock is ticking.

Melbin who is currently working with Bengaluru FC as the Manager for their Soccer Schools feels “The major issue with development of the national team is the lack of initiatives and accountability from the local football associations. To develop a team we need solid grassroots development program. Playing football should ideally start at the age of 5. Focus areas in each age group is: 5-8 for motor skills and basic skills, 8-11 – advanced skills, 11-14 brain development and decision making, 14-17 physical training, social development and tactical game play. All this to make sure that by 17 a player can play football with a club in their first team. Development of grassroots players can happen only through coaches who can break down the details and communicate the same to children.

But coaching alone won’t solve the problem. Where is the infrastructure?” says Atishay, former editor “There’s a severe shortage of quality infrastructure when it comes to football. The lack of proper pitches is alarming. What’s worse is that even the best clubs in the country are failing to produce or maintaining quality football pitches. Poor pitches severely hinder the development of good football and footballers.

Indian Football is stuck in a vicious cycle. Indian football doesn’t find viewers because India is an extremely poor performer on the international stage. People don’t keep on watching defeats. Sponsors will come if there are viewers and viewers will come if the team starts winning. The team will win if the most talented players in the country play for the team. They will play if playing Football for India is a viable profession.

The only way to break this cycle, according to Aayush Dabas, Strategic Development, Marketing Division at FIFA is by “Pushing money into the market both from sponsors side and government. This will help develop infrastructure and show kids that football can be a long term future. That is the only way to retain talent and help improve the standards of the game. That is the only way Indian Football will get its own superstar. Bhutia & Chhetri have been India’s best players over the last decade or so, but neither of them have had the quality to make any sort of impact abroad. When an Indian finally makes an impact in the football world, it will inspire millions of Indians to watch, follow and play the game.

We need to inspire the next generation to play Football. What we need is not 2 professional leagues at the very top. What we ideally need is one strong 10 month professional league with a proper, structured network of leagues around the country. That would mean a strong 2nd division to feed the professional league, as well as a university and school level league network across India which feeds the 2nd division league. A pyramid that is top heavy will collapse. We need to strengthen the base.

Indian football is a sleeping giant. Unless the All India Football Federation and its partners understand the severity of the situation and start taking concrete measures with a long term view, this giant will very soon forever go to sleep.

You can tweet your comments to me @rashi_kakkar.

You must be to comment.
  1. krushna

    At least someone made a post about the sorry state of indian football the isl is nothing but a fiasco and i gurantee by any means its not going to help and you rightly said we are too busy with shit bolywood movies and cricket ..and we here think football as nothing just kicking around the ball.I think we can ever play football

  2. munish agarwal

    I am running a football club running in bhopal. Bhopal is the worst place for football, But I am confident that in I will be able to make international footballer from here.
    I found, only one problem.
    Wrong selection and wrong training.
    indian coaches does not understand the european football fully. They ask the child to pass but dont know how to get it done.
    and finally when it comes to selection, they select quick, speedy, tall and physically strong player instead of skillfull, intelligent and creative child. Last week , during the selection for 2017 world cup, they left the child who got best player award and 100% scholarship by FC BARCELONA and Arsenal Academy.
    Fields are lying empty.
    ISL has given career hopes.
    children are doing hard to make career.
    but no real guidance and wrong selection is destroying every thing.

  3. Tamil

    At least there is Someone Scream through this Article about Reality of Indian Football……..
    Issue 1:
    Indian Football will not Develop Due to Feudal Age Working Conditions for Fans.
    In All other Countries Working Hours are Less 7 to 8 hours .And The Citizens Stay at their Home Cities
    and Work….But In Our Country Working People are Migrated to other Sides of the Country..
    Issue 2:
    Stupid Coaches at All Over the Football Associations and Clubs…
    Coaches and Managers who themself Play in The DIVISION TEAMs at the Age of 35+ even
    without any ability block all the Youngsters….This shiz happens in TamilNadu……
    Issue 3:
    Lack of Sponcers by Companies presented in The Respective AREAS of the CLUBS(THIS

More from Rashi Kakkar

Similar Posts

By Namrata Vijay

By shakeel ahmad

By Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA)

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below