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90 per cent of India's elite footballers hail from 10 states, reveals new research

Richard Hood, in his research, cited the Birthplace Effect as the reason why the majority of India's elite footballers hail from the 10 states.

90 per cent of Indias elite footballers hail from 10 states, reveals new research

FILE PHOTO: Indian men's football team during a training session. 


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 14 April 2024 8:27 AM GMT

About 90 per cent - 89.24 per cent to be precise - of India's elite footballers hail from only ten states of the country, revealed new research conducted by Bengaluru-based Richard Hood, a UEFA ‘A’ and AFC Pro licence coach and former head of player development of All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Of this, 65.51 per cent of India's elite footballers hail from only five states of the country - Manipur, Mizoram, West Bengal, Punjab and Goa, which has a total population of 12.43 crore, as estimated in the 2011 Census.

The former head coach of FC Bengaluru United, Hood, in his research titled 'Mapping Our Minutes' posted on LinkedIn, emphasised that the remaining 23.72 per cent of players hail from the places of Greater Mumbai, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya and Sikkim, which has a total population of around 25 crores.

Hence, around 90 per cent of India's elite-level players - who play in the ISL, I-League, senior national team, and India U-23, U-20 and U-17 teams - hail from ten of India's 28 states and eight union territories, home to about 20 per cent of India's 1.4 billion population.

Among the ten states, Manipur and Mizoram contributed the most number of players to India, accounting for almost 31 per cent of top-level footballers in the country, followed by West Bengal (13.55 per cent), Punjab (11.46 per cent) and Goa (9.71 per cent).

These findings in the research further strengthened the notion that football has made little penetration in other parts of India, including the most populous region of India, the Hindi heartland.

Hood, in his research, cited the 'Birthplace Effect' as the reason behind this trend.

He also emphasised that India's trend is not a fluke. In the world's top football-playing nations, including Argentina, Brazil, Spain, England, Germany, Netherlands and France also a similar trend has been followed, with the majority of their players coming from certain regions. For example in Argentina, 35.25 per cent of the county's elite footballers hail from Buenos Aires.

"India too display the birthplace effect, with Manipur, Punjab, West Bengal, Greater Mumbai, Kerala and Goa exhibiting a high concentration of our minutes played (across various tournaments). These seven regional hotspots collectively contribute over 75 per cent of the player pool," noted Hood.

The analysis stated that the Indian players spent 22,65,015 minutes in the ISL, I-League and the men’s national teams so far.

What is the Birthplace Effect in football?

The Birthplace Effect, as explained by Hood, is known as the place of early development, and refers to the phenomenon where a disproportionate number of elite athletes originate from specific geographical locations or regions. This effect suggests that the environment, resources, and opportunities available in certain areas during an athlete's formative years significantly influence their development and success in sports.

"The birthplace effect can be defined as the tendency for athletes to excel in their chosen sport if they come from regions that provide optimal conditions for skill development, coaching, competition and support system. Factors contributing to this effect may include access to high-quality training, facilities, coaching expertise, cultural attitudes towards sports, peer influence and socioeconomic factors," explained Hood.

Going by Hood's logic, the birthplace effect, is also precisely the reason why the majority of Indian states have been falling behind in the footballing parameters.

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