The Vasco Da Gama based young team, the Indian Arrows (Reserves) have pulled out of the Hero I-League Second Division right after the release of fixtures and group divisions. The Indian Arrows, who come under the wings of the AIFF developmental side, comprise of U-16 and U-18 players, who are slated to take their Board examinations this year. Keeping the ‘holistic development’ of the young footballers in mind, the Indian Arrows have decided to opt-out of the Hero I-League Second Division which begins from January 25, to prepare and appear for the crucial examinations.
Beginning from the 25th, the league will have 18 teams in the milieu who will clash against each other in the I-League Second Division tournament. Out of the 18 teams, 8 of them are reserve sides of ISL with the AIFF and the I-League providing one reserve team each.
The main sides will be a part of the other eight. However, the withdrawal of the Indian Arrows at the eleventh hour owing to ‘holistic’ purposes will not disturb the pattern of the tournament as the Arrows were a Reserves/Developmental side. Being initially placed in Group B, the Arrow’s departure will render the Group B matches to be fought among just five teams now. The group winners will automatically enter the next stage of the tournament.
The decision by the AIFF reserve side does come as a welcome surprise with education being prioritized over sports. With the thought of the U-16 and U-18 players in their minds, the officials have realized the importance of them taking their Board examinations as it is knocking raptly on the door.
With a major league starting, this decision has invited the usual criticism and opened up debates of education and sports and if they should go hand in hand. The Indian Arrows have launched off in the right direction by choosing to devote time to studies and appearing for the Board examinations, knowing well that the two binaries can be unified in the long run ahead.
Here is the Group Divisions for the Hero ISL Second Division League:
Group A: Lonestar Kashmir FC, Punjab FC (reserves), Garhwal FC, Rajasthan FC, ATK (reserves), Jamshedpur FC (reserves).
Group B: Mohammedan Sporting, Bhawanipore, Hyderabad FC (reserves), Bengaluru FC (reserves), Chennaiyin FC (reserves).
Group C: ARA FC, Mumbai City FC (reserves), FC Goa (reserves), FC Bengaluru United, FC Kerala, Kerala Blasters (reserves).