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India needs longer ISL, better facilities for youngsters, says Helder Postiga

Helder Postiga said ISL has been improving in the past three years and it can be the torchbearer of Indian football.

By: PTI | Kochi |
December 17, 2016 8:44:50 pm
helder-postiga-m Helder Postiga believes Indian football will be of high standard. (Source: Express File)

Two Indian Super League teams head coaches and ATK marquee player Helder Postiga pitched for a longer ISL season and emphasised on youth development to raise the profile of the tournament to the next level and for the overall good of the game in the country.

Kerala Blasters coach Steve Coppell said that ISL should contribute to the development of game in the country by running a league longer than the current 10-12 weeks, besides giving better facilities to the youngsters to play the game.

“For Indian football to develop there has to be a bigger competition which will last longer and more importantly there will have to better facilities for young players to hone their talent. We have gone to some places, where we have struggled to find grass pitches to train.

“If India is really serious about developing its football, there has to be a policy to have more academies and facilities for young players to play and develop to make India a football force,” Coppell said at the pre-match press conference ahead of the summit clash between Kerala Blasters and Atletico de Kolkata.

Asked about his earlier critical comments on ISL, he said, “I was wondering what would be the legacy of the ISL to develop young footballers or is it to be just the 10-12 week experience which everybody enjoys but don’t know what is next.

“It will be great if we have a legacy just for youth football. If India has to develop in football, it need a lot more young players from the 1.2 billion people who would like to play football because of better facilities on a regular basis. If the ISL is involved in creating more facilities for young players, it will have a tremendous purpose going forward,” added Coppell who has coached English Premier League sides, including Manchester City, in the past.

Asked how long India would need to rise near to the level of European countries, Coppell said, “Indian football will develop only when you have a youth system with good facilities. You need more facilities for young boys to play from 5-6-7-8 years. It is only then you will see progress. In my view, you will need probably a generation to rise to the level of other football countries.

“I believe ISL is the next stage of development after the I-League. I believe the ISL may get bigger with more teams, more widespread across India. That will be a good development,” he said alluding to the plans of a merger of ISL and I-League from next year onwards for a full-fledged longer league.

While agreeing with Coppell on the way forward for Indian football, ATK head coach Jose Molina said that Indian players in his side were improving day by day.

“I am completely happy about my Indian players. They worked very hard and they try to learn things. On the question of development of Indian football and the role that can be played by ISL, I completely agree with Coppell,” said Molina who has worked as head coach of La Liga sides like Villarreal.

For his part, ATK marquee player Postiga said ISL has been improving in the past three years and it can be the torchbearer of Indian football.

“In the three years, ISL has improved all along. The quality of teams have improved, the organisation has improved. People are surprised that a league like this is happening in India. I think it can be further improved with more teams, better players. I think it will happen soon and for sure this will help Indian football,” said the star Portuguese striker who has played for his country in 71 international matches including two World Cups and three European Championships.

Asked about lack of Indian strikers in ISL teams, Postiga said, “I saw many goals scored by Indians this year. Indian football has improved with younger (Indian) players this time than last year. Football is not like mathematics, you need time to improve. I hope in few years, Indian football will be of high standard.”

Coppell said since it’s early times each ISL will have to have some quality international strikers but in the long run Indian strikers will come up.

“You have to see that you have some good international strikers to score goals. With time, I think we will have some terrific Indian strikers. There have been some promising Indian players this season and I think they will get better and better.”

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