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India doing well in football has been a quiet dream for millions in this country. But has always remained a dream. From being surprised to know that India even has a football team, to dissing the Indian team’s poor performances, to whining about why cricket takes all the limelight, the current Indian team despite poor infrastructure, pathetic administration, no media attention, bad attendances etc have now started performing very well climbing up steadily the FIFA rankings of 174 to 148 and now at around 99 or 100.
We need to sustain this momentum and show that there is huge commercial potential so that companies and govt bodies start investing massively into Indian football. It is very much possible. Here are some pointers to ensure we keep up this momentum and see India as a force to be reckoned with in football-
- Let go of the cricket vs football pointless argument- Cricket is a superb sport. It rose to prominence in India after great performances on the international stage. Cricket does not have to fall for football to rise. India is a huge country with enough population and diversities to field strong teams in many sports. Look at Australia who is great at cricket, rugby, football, tennis, olympics and every other sport.
- Talk about Indian football team and its matches on your social media stories and tweets. Don’t be ashamed or think it is beneath you. If you’re an influencer, promote India matches and show how mainstream it is.
- Engage with Indian football team content on social media. Follow the pages. The instagram page @IndianFootball is lit and worth following. Many other pages and Youtubers too worth following. Hit like, engage etc to show the numbers.
- Watch team India play in stadiums. Sponsors love fully filled grounds and notice it.
- Watch team India play on TV/OTT and increase viewership numbers. Brands will love to sponsor something that is not as crowded as cricket
- There is nothing wrong in being a fan of a European club or supporting powerhouse nations like Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Spain etc. The quality of football is top notch. But if you’re one who disses our own national team just to look cool, know that none of those clubs or other nations would care if millions like you get wiped out.
- Be a part of positive change and be vocal on social media. Ditch being cynical and start asking the right questions to the right authorities. Unlike BCCI which is like a private entity, the others are run by tax payer monies and babus who will get away with lame administration and corruption if fans are submissive and look the other way. Don’t like something? Be a part of the solution.
- Understand the models like that of Japan and J-League and how in football grass root level change takes decades to reflect. Our U-17 and U-20 kids are doing great and there is great hope.
- Know that football has 200+ nations who take it seriously and it is extremely tough to be in the top 50 if not even the top 100.
- Know that the theory of Indians being physically inferior is total crap. Even so countries like Japan and S.Korea do amazingly well.
- Buy a jersey. The current one has kick ass colours and designs.
- Follow the ISL (Indian Super League). Gone are the days when India had a dead football league. The ISL is exciting, good quality, well followed and well covered event.
- Talk to the kids and the next generation that India playing in the FIFA World Cup is a dream for millions in the country and it maybe them who will end up being heroes for this country.
The men’s national team has seen a recent upturn in fortunes, with the team rising to its highest ever FIFA ranking of 97 in 2021 (now it is 106). The team has also qualified for the third round of AFC Asian Cup qualifiers for the first time in 27 years, and will be looking to build on that success in the coming years.
Similarly, the women’s national team has also been making strides in recent years, with the team rising to its highest ever FIFA ranking of 53 in 2019. The team has also qualified for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup on four occasions, most recently in 2023, and will be looking to continue its progress in the coming years.
In addition to the progress being made at national team level, there are also encouraging signs of growth and development at the club level. The Indian Super League and I-League have both been expanding in recent years, with new clubs being added to the leagues and existing clubs investing in their infrastructure and facilities.