Indian Arrows head Shanmugam Venkatesh, who is also the assistant to the Indian national team coach Igor Stimac, has said Indian football needs stronger state leagues to develop talent as Indian Super League clubs don’t contribute much to player development.

Venkatesh, a former India midfielder felt the onus is on the state associations to create a stronger ecosystem so that the ISL clubs are bound to be an important part of it.

“A few states are proud to have an ISL club. These clubs do not help in the development of local talent. ISL is more of entertainment than growing local players,” Venkatesh told The New Indian Express.

“As a former player and captain of the national team, I feel state leagues are vital for the development of local talent. A strong state league will help national selectors find players,” he added.

In India, over the years the top-tier clubs have participated in the local leagues along with the national league. Mohun Bagan and East Bengal still compete in the Calcutta Football League.

Venkatesh, however, felt it was important for all states to have a strong enough national league for the ISL clubs to compete.

“Clubs and the state associations must make their local league so strong that the ISL team from their state would take part in it. In my days, playing in leagues in West Bengal and Goa was a proud moment for the players,” he said.

Head coach Igor Stimac had complained about the lack of playing time for Indian strikers in the ISL and suggested that it would be very difficult for India to find a replacement for Sunil Chhetri when he decides to retire from the game.

The trend seems to be continuing this season as well with Indian players scoring only four out of the 32 goals scored so far.

Venkatesh is preparing the Indian Arrows team for the IFA Sheild campaign in Kolkata.

Clarification: In an Instagram post, Venkatesh said he has been misquoted by the newspaper. However, the article is still live on the website.