Merging I-League & ISL can solve logistical chaos in Indian football calendar: Nitin Kukreja

MUMBAI: Stakeholders in the growing Indian sports industry unanimously agree that the appetite for football in India is definitely on the rise though there are numerous challenges, which have to be overcome before its full potential can be realised.

At the recently held Star Sports India Football Forum 2015, Star India president sports Nitin Kukreja said that while merging I-League and ISL would solve much of the logistical chaos currently reigning in the Indian football calendar, no concrete progress has been made towards that. He also stressed on the need for schools and colleges to participate in the sport in a structured manner in order to allow a footballing culture to develop on a larger scale, especially in North and West India where the sport does not have much popularity.

Senior professionals from the sports and broadcast industry deliberated on the multiple opportunities in the football sector at the forum titled: “Taking Indian Football Higher, Deeper, Wider,” held in Mumbai on 29 October.

The day-long conference revolved around various Knowledge Sessions such as: Governance & Management - Faster Growth, Higher Visibility, Stronger Management; Maximising Fan Experience- Getting It Right on Air and In Stadia; Internet & Mobile Keys To Experiential Nirvana- Connecting To the Consumer in a Fast Evolving Media Landscape and Corporate Social Opportunity– The Business Potential in Grassroots Outreach.

Established in 2010, the India Football Forum, the flagship property of the SportzPower Knowledge Series (SKS) in partnership with Event Capital, brings together some of the best minds in the industry on one platform to deliberate on the business of football in this market.

Industry stalwarts such as U Sports founder Ronnie Screwvala, DFL Sports Enterprises chief representative Asia Pacific Peter Leible, Future Brands MD & CEO Santosh Desai and Kukreja spoke on the various factors that indicate the rapid strides made by football, and the initiatives required to take it to the next level.

Leible, who drew a parallel to the recent period of revival in German football to provide context to the Indian experience, said a similar widespread initiative, with emphasis on clubs doing their bit on the grassroots and academy side of things, could lead to a uniform growth of football in India though “patience” is the key criteria while implementing such programmes.

Screwvala, in conversation with conference chair Ayaz Memon, said that with ISL, the changes are positive in Indian football, but there needs to be an effort to develop the game at the grassroots level to actually help improve the standards of Indian football.

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