According to The New Indian Express, former Indian international and current head coach of the Indian Arrows, Shanmugam Venkatesh has stated that the Indian Super League (ISL) clubs do very little in developing local talent. He also feels that the onus is more on the state federations to build a strong ecosystem for youngsters coming into football.
Speaking ahead of his side’s IFA Shield campaign in Kolkata, the 43-year-old apparently said in an interview with the prominent news agency, “A few states are proud to have an ISL club. These clubs do not help in the development of local talent. ISL is more of entertainment than growing local players.” He has since claimed via an Instagram post that his words have been misquoted by the interviewing agency.
The former midfielder, who is also assistant to India head coach Igor Stimac, reportedly added, “As a former player and captain of the national team, I feel state leagues are vital for the development of local talent. A strong state league will help national selectors find players. Clubs and the state associations must make their local league so strong that the ISL team from their state would take part in it.”
In recent years, Stimac has also questioned the lack of playing time for Indian players in the ISL. Now, Venkatesh’s statement, although a little blunt and maybe blown out of proportion a bit, is a fair assessment of the work done by ISL clubs in the off season in terms of talent identification and development. However, with clubs like Mumbai City, Hyderabad FC and FC Goa now tying up with international entities to focus on their youth setups, there seems to be light at the end of this tunnel in the not so distant future.
All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) developmental side Indian Arrows meanwhile is set to feature in the I-League which starts from January 9. Before that, participating in the 123rd IFA Shield should be good preparation for Venkatesh’s young side. The Shield kicked off on Sunday with four matches on Matchday 1. Mohammedan Sporting won their match against Kidderpore SC while the Arrows drew their match 1-1 with Southern Samity.