Injeti Srinivas, the Sports Authority of India’s Director General, said: “Today, apart from a couple of events, there are very few domestic tournaments, especially at the junior level. Fine, we have the ISL and others but they are fairly new and amateur, and cannot replace the old tournaments.”
India needs to focus on finding new talent, and creating a space in which junior level competition can thrive. When Srinivas spoke at the School Sports Promotions Foundation’s National Talent Search and Nurture launch, he explained that there are not enough tournaments that cater football on the junior level. He noted that although there are some events, they are certainly lacking in both quality and quantity.
Srinivas said: “Some time back, the All India Football Federation and Sports Authority of India signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a few objectives in mind including to increase the age group tournaments at the junior level, to establish them and introduce more competitions. For that the dialogue is on.”
He explained that the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017 will be taking place in India, and that it is likely that the high profile football event will help to create greater exposure in India. The government has already agreed to give financial assistance to help develop football at the grassroots level for an amount of Rs 5 crore.
“Then we have the Under-17 World Cup in 2017 which will also help the development of the sport in the country.”
Srinivas added: “Talent can only be spotted in tournaments and trials. So, the greater number of tournaments, the better.”
It still remains to be seen if the ISL will step up and promote football to the youth in India.