While cricket is a pride for Indians and has stayed that way for a very long time now, football has come to enjoy a much-coveted space in Indian sports, especially with the advent of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL). Albeit the popularity of football has been evolving over the years with India’s existing football league, I-League, but its stance in India has not been quite favourable until ISL happened in 2014. Here are a few reasons how the League came to be the best answer to all the football fans in the country:
Making Football a top sport in India
Featuring eight teams this season, ISL runs through October to December and is slated to be a giant leap not only in the domestic front, engaging football lovers pan India, but also on International soil – rather this has been a remarkable move to put Indian football on the global map.
Is ISL a truly world-class football league?
With popular football figures such as Diego Forlan, Iain Hume, Didier Zokora, Florent Malouda and head coaches like former Italian professional footballers, Marco Materazzi and Gianluca Zambrotta; experienced Portuguese football manager, Nelo Vingada; Brazilian Coach who also played as an attacking midfielder & is popularly known as Zico - both the domestic and the native players of the teams are getting some quality football exposure and invaluable experience in the ISL 2016. The amalgamation of international and local talents has brought some quality football techniques & experienced shots to the fore – opening up better prospects for future world-class football that India will now have the scope to get into.
Social presence of the premier football tournament
Regaining the lost prominence of football (that last made waves in India in 2012 before the ISL came into picture, when Baichung Bhutia and his team played against the Bayern Munich team) in the domestic circuit, ISL’s #LetsFootball hashtag has had nearly 3.4 million likes on the official Facebook page of the ISL and 2,55,000 followers on Twitter. ISL has become quite a rage among the crazy football fans in India with the hashtag #LetsFootball becoming the most used hashtag. Here’s what the Twitteratis have had to say about their love of the game:
— Sreejith Gopinath (@sreejithmca) November 12, 2016
— Deepak George (@CherianVakkayil) November 12, 2016
John Abraham: So proud of my team NorthEast United FC #NEUFC#8States1United… https://t.co/4Yvzl3BuR7#TweetsNow,#SportsTweets,#FilmyTweetspic.twitter.com/0QfYqnxngs — Tweets Now (@TweetsNowIndia) November 3, 2016
The third ISL season kicked off with a gala opening ceremony at Guwahati that witnessed power-packed performances by B-Town stars, Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Jacqueline Fernandes supported by 500 other artists on stage. Besides, John Abraham being the owner of NEUFC (North East United FC), Ranbir Kapoor co-owning Mumbai City FC, Hrithik Roshan co-owning Pune City FC, Sachin Tendulkar co-owning Kerala Blasters FC and MS Dhoni being the co-owner of Chennaiyin FC has garnered quite some attention from the masses, while Abhishek Bachchan’s active involvement in ISL 2016 has further stirred the league’s star presence – grabbing mass eyeballs from the nation’s football fanatics.
Managing own teams in a fantasy game
ISL has not only opened up opportunities for its players but also gives a chance to its fans to indulge in some football frenzy with #ISLFantasy and win attractive gift vouchers and cash awards. With the arrival of ISL, football fans are geared up across the nation to manage their own teams with their favorite players and according to their own analysis of the game and players’ strengths.
Looks like, ISL is here to stay and its presence will be felt not only among football enthusiasts but will spread to other sports fans as well. As exciting as it has been to watch the ISL roll over national television and thronging stadiums, so is the entire journey of Indian football amassing fondness among Indians and raising the scope of the sport beyond the domestic arena.
We are to witness how the success of ISL boosts the impending India-hosted Under-17 FIFA World Cup in 2017 that will further decide the future of Football in the country.
With this, ISL has sure opened up the prospects of Indian football in world sports.
This is a partnered post.