Vijayan bats for longer football league, praises ISL


MUMBAI : Indian football icon I.M. Vijayan feels one league will help players get rest and chances of injuries will also be less. There will be two leagues, the I-League and the Indian Super League (ISL), running simultaneously this season with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) asking the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to plan for one longer league from the 2018-19 season onwards.


Vijayan, who met national team players here on Monday, said one league of six months will be beneficial for players as they will get sufficient rest and chances of injuries will also become lesser.

"The teams have also increased. If they get six months, there will be less injuries. Players will get rest, so it is good," Vijayan said.

The Kerala-born former India striker, who received the Arjuna Award in 2003, opined on the current status of Indian football, and how the present players are getting better facilities than what he used to get during his playing days.

"The training that they (the players) get nowadays is better than what players like myself used to get," Vijayan said. 

"I played in my village and we had only one academy, which was the Tata Football Academy. Now there are a lot of good academies with good coaches. So, if you put in effort in football (now), you can be a good player," he added.

Vijayan also appreciated the contribution of ISL for improving facilities and standards over the past few years.

"The difference is that confidence has come into football.

"We all know that the ISL has come. So, by looking at the national team's practice, I've got my confidence built up. Now the players get good training. During our time, there used to be one assistant coach and one chief coach, but now there are goalkeeping coaches, etc. That's why it has improved a lot."

Vijayan cited examples of current India strikers Jeje Lalpekhlua and Sunil Chhetri, saying their improvement has been massive after playing in the ISL.

"I have been watching the ISL for two years. They get to play in front of great players like (Thierry) Henry, which is very good for the players. In this way, our junior players can learn from them. 

Jeje has played with a lot of good players at Chennaiyin FC, which has helped his performance in the Indian team, and now he is scoring as well. It is the same with Sunil Chhetri. They have gained a lot of experience. It is very good that these big players come to the ISL," he said.

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