I-League CEO Sunando Dhar feels the club licensing criteria should prompt the teams to invest more in grassroots and develop talent in their own region.
“The All India Football Federation had introduced Club Licensing in 2012 where one of the main focus was on to develop home grown talent,” Dhar stated on the side-lines of FICCI’s GOAL Summit 2019.
“The club licensing programme has been one of the best things to have happened to Indian football. It has done wonders by professionalising the setup in a unique way. It prompted the clubs to invest in grassroots and develop talent in their own region,” he explained.
“We have introduced the home grown rule for the same reason in the I-League as it would drastically increase the talent pool available. We have touched 15 states through the leagues that are running, be it even the youth leagues, now the next objective is to touch each and every state.”
Dhar also stressed that “local talents need to be given a chance so that football is developed from the roots”.
“Not only does the club benefit from their services in the long run but football in general grows as these local players become stars and inculcate a passion towards football,” he said.
Players like Real Kashmir’s Bilal Khan or Chennai City FC’s Gaurav Bora were absolutely unknown names prior to the kick-off of the Hero I-League 2018-19.
Bora even went on to score two goals in Chennai City’s win over Minerva Punjab FC to land his team a maiden title, an effort which prompted Derrick Pererira hand him his maiden U-23 national team call-up.
“Chennai City FC, Real Kashmir and Minerva Punjab FC have all given rise to local talent and they are reaping the benefits,” Dhar said. “Teams need to take responsibility of developing talents in their own region and promoting football.”