AIFF General Secretary predicts huge growth of Indian football: ‘Sport of choice’

AIFF General Secretary predicts huge growth of Indian football: ‘Sport of choice’

KUSHAL DAS, the AIFF General Secretary, has predicted that football will eventually become the most popular sport in India.

Speaking to PTI, Mr Das noted a huge growth in investment in the last decade.

A major vision is the continual growth of the women’s game.

Mr Das explained: “The investment in Indian football since 2010 has probably increased tenfold.

“The infrastructure, media support including broadcasting has grown significantly.

“Football is in real terms a global sport and with India’s demography and the globalisation, it is a natural fallout that football will be the sport of choice in India.”

The last decade has seen the launch of the Indian Super League and the national team qualify and qualified for two AFC Asian Cups, having only qualified for two of the editions before 2011.

India will host the next U17 Women’s World Cup.

Mr Das went on: “We want to develop women’s football in a big way too and while we are in the process of creating a robust domestic structure, we believe that hosting international events will give a big boost to women’s football in India.”

International striker Ngangom Bala Devi signed for Scottish giants last year.

With 36 goals in 46 games, she is just four goals away from Shamshita Malik’s all-time record for the women’s side, 40 goals.

Whilst every player called up to the men’s team in the last year currently plays club football in India, Sunil Chhetri spent time on trial at Rangers and has previously played for the B team of Sporting Clube de Portugal.

Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has spent three years in Norway playing for Stabaek.

Indian teams have in recent history started to make progress in AFC Competitions.

In 2016, Bengaluru reached the 2016 AFC Cup final losing 1-0 to Iraqi side Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya in Doha.

This was the first of three consecutive competition wins for the team from Baghdad.

2021 marks the first time Indian sides have been involved with the AFC Champions League.

Goa are in Group E with Iranian giants Persepolis, Qatari outfit Al-Rayyan and the winner of the play-off between Emirati side Al-Wahda and Al-Zawraa from Iraq.

The group winners are guaranteed progression to the knockout stages with six of the best ranked runners-up (three from the eastern Section and three from the Western section) also joining.

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