After suffering a defeat at the hands of Guam in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, Indian football coach Stephen Constantine has raised worry about India’s present football circumstance. Constantine expressed that India’s misfortune to Guam, positioned 33 spots behind India is possibly due to the presence of imported players in the Guam team.
Constantine pointed out the fact, “In other countries this process is happening at all levels, especially at the club level. So how do we get the government to look at this rule so that we can take advantage of Indians who want to come and play?”. Such a type of scenario, as well as dual passports, are common among footballers across the globe. For example, the Barcelona star Lionel Messi had the option of choosing to play for Spain or Argentina and he chose his home country.
India’s case is quite different. There have been some persons of Indian origin who have expressed their desire to wear the blue tigers jersey in the past. But, it is the Indian government that has disagreed, making the job a bit more tough for the Indian team in the World Cup Qualifiers.
What if India allows Persons of Indian Origin to represent the country in World Cup Qualifiers?
The Indian football team will get ready help, courtesy the abundance of experienced International players of Indian origin.
Some of the players who have expressed their desire in the past include Michael Chopra (Former Newcastle, Ipswich and Kerala Blasters forward), Harmeet Singh (Molde FK). Other players of Indian origin include Neil Taylor (Swansea City FC) Luciano Narsingh (PSV Eindhoven) and Furdjel Narsingh (SC Cambuur) who could also be eligible to represent the Blue Tigers, if the government of India agrees.
The addition of these persons of Indian origin can instantly add fire-power to the Indian set-up for the remainder of the World Cup qualifiers and other International tournaments in the near future. And, it could also help attract youngsters to actively take football as a profession in India rather than just as a hobby.
The grassroots system of Indian football might get neglected if focus is laid on attaining short-term benefits.
India currently has only one elite training centre in Goa and four regional centres across the country. Given the fact that India’s overall population is over a billion, this number is far from the required number.
Another major issue at hand for the long run is that India currently has about a hundred AFC “A” licensed coaches, again a very meagre number compared to the requirement. The number further decreases when AFC Pro licenses (equivalent to UEFA Pro) are concerned.
With this level of infrastructure support, India is likely to see difficult times at the World Cup Qualifiers for a long time to come.
The question is whether the Indian government should allow persons of Indian origin to represent India at International sporting events and look for a boost for the remainder of the matches in the World Cup qualifiers. Or, should they be looking to solidify the grassroots system and produce players that can compete at top levels, which will take a slightly longer time to yield results.
But, a combination where we absorb a few young Indian origin olayers maybe the perfect solution at this time for both short and long term success.