Can big names lift Indian football?
Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly were just two of the more famous names amongst a host of other high-profile winning bidders for the Indian Super League of football. The League unveiled the eight franchises for the league which is scheduled for September to November this year. Tendulkar has bagged the Kochi franchise while Ganguly has the Kolkata franchise. The Mumbai franchise went to Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor and Bimal Parekh while Salman Khan bagged the Pune franchise together with Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan of the Wadhawan Group and John Abraham too, upping the glamour stakes with the Guwahati franchise.
While sportainment seems to be the trend, given that cricket and entertainment has merged into the successful Indian Premier League (IPL) never mind all the controversies, one has to think about how Indian national football is sliding rapidly down the ladder.
What this means is that while glamour and money may have come into football, one hopes some of this translates into results from our national team. One can only hope that this league, brings more popularity and visibility for the game, which in turn can only be good for national football. While this particular league holds promise of glitz and fizz, would this mean better administration for football, identifying talent at the grass roots, better facilities at every level and finally, a better showing in different levels of the game? Leagues like this usually work best when the game is already seared into public consciousness, and the nation is following it closely. Such is not the case yet with Indian football, so it would be good if a league’s pickings can somehow translate into better fortunes for our national team and players. Indian football needs a pick-me-up, it is time to see if big names, corporatisation and glamour can provide the fillip it needs at the national level, and fringe benefits of having such glamour-filled leagues can prove beneficial to the game on a larger scale.