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Parallel force IMG Reliance, injects hope for football development in Uttarakhand

DEHRADUN: The www.DehradunFootball.com is celebrating its 14th anniversary at a time when Indian football is passing trough deep crises. The Indian Super League (ISL) versus I-League tussle continues to create controversy and news for the wrong reasons. A large section of football administrators have failed to digest the rise of IMG Reliance in Indian football and the supremacy it enjoys over All India Football Federation. In the survival of the fittest, if old clubs have lost their grip over the sports system they are themselves to be blamed for the mess. Without adopting an updated system the old clubs were enjoying ‘Chai-Samosa’ on Indian street, when the ISL invaded India and took Indian football by storm. By providing an ideal combination of professional football, with a strong grassroots programme, the ISL faced little trouble in edging out I-League and becoming India’s top league. Now I-League clubs are struggling for their future. Unsure of what is going to happen next.

Without going into the minute aspects of operating a professional football club, DehradunFootball.com wants to highlight the role of small cities in nurturing Indian football. Dehradun has produced over a dozen international footballers and most of them were linked to Indian Army. How many Indian Army/police/para-military players are presently playing for the national team, I-League clubs and ISL clubs? Possibly one-two or nil! Despite hosting a more organized football competition than many state associations, Indian Army/police/para-military footballers remains neglected.

Till the time when Indian football had more administrators from Indian Army/police/para-military the standard of Indian football was high. The days from when AIFF came under complete ‘civilian’ management the bad days of soccer started in India. The state association became wayward and unmanageable. The All India Football Federation found one easy formula to run soccer by keeping its affiliated units happy. No monitoring on state association. The single point programme was to keep the affiliated units in good sprite despite their wrong doing. Take the example of Uttarakhand State Football Association, which has not hosted a state league since its inception in 2000.

Despite not conducting the routine state league, the Uttarakhand Football Association has done little for upgrading skills of coaches and referees. A defunct football association exists and despite repeated effort from individuals and also from DehradunFootball.com- to ask AIFF to address the grievances- the situation remains unchanged and frustrating. The All India Football Federation with its ‘please the state association’ policy has caused much damage to the grassroots football in places like Uttarakhand.

We look at the growth of IMG Reliance in India football from Uttarakhand perspectives. A parallel force to AIFF and state football association is a welcome step. If the IMG Reliance conducts some clinic for coaches/referees and some talent spotting in the hill state, the Uttarakhand Football Association (and also AIFF) will be in no position to challenge the big company. The focus of IMG is on grassroots and they can spot talent in a ‘rigidly sports hit’ place like Uttarakhand to groom the kids in their academy.

Reliance Industries Limited Chairman Anil Ambani comes to Badrinath and Kedarnath for his pilgrimage and has constantly expressed his willingness to do something in the hill state. The strong bond of Ambani family with Uttarakhand is also indicated by the fact that one of their family members is on the board of the Badrinath Kedarnath Temple Committee. Alike the 'not to professionally managed' I-League clubs surrendering to IMG Reliance, even the defunct state associations will find the going tough. Good for Uttarakhand football!

From DehradunFootball.com’s side we would like to express our gratitude to sport fans for their love and affection in our 14 year journey. With our limited weapons we are fighting a battle against sports manipulators. And we can confidently say in Bollywood movie like style, “Film Abhi Baki Hai.”


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