Even as international footballers were full of praise at the way the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) was conducted, there were a few creases that the players hoped would be ironed out in the next season.

Kerala Blasters' Iain Hume (left) and Atletico de Kolkata's captain Luis Garcia pose with the Indian Super League trophy
Kerala Blasters' Iain Hume (left) and Atletico de Kolkata's captain Luis Garcia pose with the Indian Super League trophy on the eve of their final. Pics/ISL/Sportzpics.

“I think one thing (that can be addressed) is the infrastructure with regards to places for the teams to train. It’s been very difficult for a lot of sides. “When we’re travelling, we’re staying in good hotels but the hotels are often an hour or more away from a training facility, which is quite often inadequate. If you want a good performance (from players) you need good training facilities.

“So my recommendation for next year is to get some good training pitches. But apart from that, the ISL in its first year has been wonderful and competitive,” Kerala Blasters’ marquee player-cum-coach David James told reporters yesterday. The Kerala franchise, which is staying at a South Mumbai hotel, trained at the Cooperage yesterday which has an astro-turf pitch rather than travel to Navi Mumbai to practise at the DY Patil Stadium.

“We couldn’t train today as the stadium is far away. If the training facility was nearer then it would be a lot easier. If all those changes were to be made, then I think it would be a very attractive league for players to go to next season,” James added.

Inadequate rest
While concurring with his Kerala counterpart, Atletico de Kolkata’s Luis Garcia added that the pace of the league had been too frenetic for his liking. “This competition has been quite fast. Because of the training and the flights (schedule), there is no time to rest and it has been quite difficult for the players.

“We played a very hard semi-final two days ago and tomorrow, we have the final. The most important games in the competition have just three days gap between them. “You don’t have time to rest after reaching the final. You need rest and the players will arrive in the best of condition. These things will obviously improve next year,” Garcia hoped.

Baichung Bhutia
Baichung Bhutia

Bhutia says...
Meanwhile, former India captain Baichung Bhutia hoped that the franchises come up with initiatives to get the crowd involved with their local teams. “It (ISL) has been good, but I think they also need to do much more with getting the crowd involved and getting the community involved in places like Pune. The franchises need to work on youth development and start investing in grassroots,” Bhutia said.