Dhoni credits Hero ISL for inspiring young footballers
With the anticipation around the fifth season of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) on the rise and transfer news grabbing headlines every day, the nation woke up to the glory of India U-20’s remarkable win over Argentina in the COTIF Cup. The national football scene has seen an upheaval in the past few years and all eyes are fixed on the young generation of footballers to take the torch forward. Even Indian cricket team’s former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is of the same opinion and believes sport is gaining larger popularity in India.
“All the leagues are raising the standard of sport in our country and slowly you will get the desired result. It is not just about the people who are playing the ISL, but it also encourages the 16-year-old, 17-year-old players to follow and play the sport,” said Dhoni, the co-owner of current Hero ISL champions Chennaiyin FC.
The 37-year-old is also of the notion that Hero ISL proved to be the game-changer in India’s football scene. “ISL started a few years ago and it gave the Indian players a chance to rub shoulders against some of the best players in the world. Some of them were not at their peak when they came here, but it gave the Indians a benchmark as to where they need to be. It pushed them to set the benchmark slightly high. The first edition of ISL was different and in the second season, teams improved,” he inferred.
Often considered by many to be the most successful captain in Indian cricket’s history, Dhoni has multitudes of experience under his wings and maintains that though the road may be long, India’s current sporting scenario is on the right track. “To grow a sporting culture, you need time. Often people get confused, but the (reality is), sports is not related to money. It is not about ‘okay, I pump in 500 crores, next Olympics how many medals are we getting? You don’t get it like that. You have the infrastructure, you have to provide the right time to the individuals who are playing the sport and then have to wait for it. It’s a long-term investment,” he claimed.
He also urged the youngsters to pick up their boots and go out and play, as that will slowly lead to the resurgence of fitness and sport across the country, “There are youngsters who know football inside out. When I asked some of them when do they play football, they say that they play the FIFA game on PlayStation. You want them to go out and play.
Quotes sourced from www.sportstarlive.com