Arnab Mondal lauds Hero ISL’s professionalism and infrastructure
Experienced defender Arnab Mondal lavished praise on the Hero Indian Super League’s (Hero ISL) infrastructure and professionalism. The centre-back from Kolkata is a two-time league winner with ATK FC and explained some of the massive strides made by Indian football ever since the inaugural Hero ISL campaign in 2014.
“When ISL started we used to play both the leagues parallelly. I-league clubs were lacking in infrastructure. You need strong financial backup to develop infrastructure. ISL clubs have that luxury. They signed well known foreign coaches. We got to train on foreign soil,” Mondal told voiceofindiansports.com.
“I played for ATK who (at the time) had a tie-up with Atletico Madrid. We got the chance to use Atletico’s training facilities. Players became much more updated. We got to know about what methods the European giants are adopting. Finally, you can say that ISL was much more professional in terms of infrastructure, ground qualities, etc,” he added.
The former Indian international enjoyed a stellar campaign in the inaugural Hero ISL season under ATK head coach Antonio Lopez Habas. He was one of the mainstays in the team, playing 16 out of 17 matches for ATK and had the second most blocks (141) by a player in Hero ISL 2014 as well as the most interceptions (54) by an Indian that year. When asked for the most influential coach of his career, Mondal chose Habas along with his first-ever coach as a youngster.
“If I have to name someone it will be Amitava Ghosh. He was my first coach. He taught me the basics of the game and also helped me to grow mentally and physically. And as a professional, I’ll name Antonio Lopez Habas. He has a very professional body language and always wants his players to deliver 100 per cent both on the field and off the field,” he opined.
Mondal also feels that the intensity as well as fitness levels in the national team have improved in recent years and he believes that it’s a result of the quality of football on show in the Hero ISL. “There’s a huge difference in intensity level between club football and international football. If you aren’t fit enough to match that intensity you will always struggle. I think in the post-ISL era fitness levels of Indian players have improved significantly and the national team has gained from this,” Mondal said.